3 Sep 2012


When I was a lad renting videos was a lot more exciting than renting DVDs today.  Mind you in my day the only work to be had was working for the Byzantium empire as mercenaries. The were always wars with the Huns over whether VHS or Beta was better.  Besides the excitement of Byzantium, the reason videos were more fun way back then was the previews were great.

Each preview was an exciting promise of another movie we had yet to watch. And living in the arse end of the planet we only got exposed to limited movies, so previews opened up a broader, bigger and crazier world. You even fast forwarded through the final credits because of the promise of more previews at the end of the movie.


Then one day it changed. I can't say when it happened, but slowly all the previews were exactly the same on each video. These days you have the copy write warning,  the latest social atrocity created by Adam Sandler, a 25 minute blue ray advert and probably a preview for the movie you are about to see but with several spoilers.  But very occasionally you actually do get to watch a trailer of a movie you have never heard of, and might like to see.

And that is how I found out about Spud.

The Crazy 8s

Here is a South African Synopsis:

John Milton is about to start at a prestigious boys boarding school. He is rooming with a bunch of boys known as the Crazy 8's. Each of the boys has an amusing nickname; Fatty, Gecko, Rambo, Mad Dog. Johns nickname is given to him after his first communal shower. Sadly poor John has missed the first puberty bus off the rank and is slightly behind the other boys developmentally speaking. Spuddy wee penis equals being called "Spud" forever.
Poor Spud struggles with; making friends, being away from his crazy family, being with his crazy family, sports, studies and most importantly girls! But despite his efforts he generally fails at everything.
 Young Spud does find a friend and unlikely mentor in his English teacher, the 'Guv', who hate feminists and "carpet munchers", but Spud has to find his own way through the perils of puberty and boarding school on his own.

Ensue public school hijinx!
Spud and the Guv

The film is based on a highly popular book by John Van De Ruit, based on his own experiences at public school. Spud is a  "A diary of Adrian Mole" for the 90's, but based on real events. Coming of age films have been around for a long time, but I thought this was fresh, funny and agonising all at the same time. There is a genuine warmth between Spud and the Guv (played by John Cleese). I read that the producers wanted Hugh Grant to be the "Guv", but I can't imagine why. John Cleese is a consummate professional, and it is a bit of a different role for him. 
Spud falls for the Mermaid
The story incorporates living up in South Africa in the 90's with the normal hormonal issues, and the film is well balanced with hilarity, agonising awkwardness and a touch of sadness. A bit like growing up really.

It was a genuinely refreshing watch and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And now that I have watched it, I will seek out the book.

7 South African monkeys from me.

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