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Bakgat! 2
Genre Comedy
Year: 2010
 
Review:

Bakgat! surprised audiences with its bubbly and infectious local blend of American Pie and The Karate Kid. This was an Afrikaans comedy with a formulaic feel good approach that worked because of its novelty, its likable cast and its classic high school characters. Love, sport and nostalgia fused to make a movie with a lot of heart and a load of laughs. Bakgat! was so successful that it warranted a follow-up sequel to the happy ending.

Now that Wimpie (Botha) is in University... life has become complicated by a series of critical decisions. He has to choose between an uncertain rugby career in South Africa and a promising bursary to play for Oxford in England. However, with Katrien (van der Merwe) his adoring girlfriend, his best friends and the return of Werner 'Killer' Botha (Theart) it's not as black-and-white as Wimpie had hoped as he learns some hard lessons along the way.

Bakgat! was the introductory chapter and relied on a fresh batch of South African characters, tried-and-tested formula and a cheeky brand of high school comedy. The first film immersed the audience in a familiar environment with equally familar narrative arcs based on popular Hollywood franchises. Apart from some slightly out-of-place American Pie-inspired gross out comedy, Bakgat! was a hit and as they say "when it's not broken, don't fix it!".

This strategy has been implemented in Bakgat! 2, which while more original in terms of story is slightly more serious. The main cast from Bakgat! have reprised their roles and the happy-go-lucky teen spirit has been substituted by a more pensive approach to life at University. Everything seems to be twice as difficult and twice as important in the real world as Wimpie begins to realise he's at the bottom of the food chain once again.

Ivan Botha is a good guy and carries a pure, strong and sincere spirit into the character of Wimpie. It's difficult not to root for the young man, even when he gets it wrong. Cherie van der Merwe resumes her high school sweetheart role as Katrien and is given a chance to show more emotional range as Wimpie's doting girlfriend. Altus Theart makes a good equal but opposite contrast as Werner, fighting Wimpie for Katrien and jersey no. 13. While Andrew Thompson and Neil Sharim add the comic relief on thick as a slapstick comedy duo.

Bakgat! 2 is a safe bet if you enjoyed Bakgat!. It's similar enough to pick up where it left off, yet different enough to tell the two apart. Tobey Maguire did some soul-searching as Peter Parker in Spider-Man 2 and Wimpie Koekemoer does the same... both heroes in their own right, both plagued by a lack of self-confidence and uncertainty about their futures. It's a great way to change a sequel's perspective for a fresh angle on a second episode.

Bakgat! and Bakgat! 2's best attribute - they're always entertaining. You get so wrapped up in the world of Wimpie Koekemoer and co. that you forget about the English subtitles. Henk Pretorius is able to hold your attention with some taut storytelling and there's rarely a dull moment with all the intermittent sex jokes, rugby action or romance. Although one unnecessary rehab scene comes across as quite discordant and jarring... and it's not just because Steve Hofmeyer's in it. It breaks the suspense and draws the audience out of the suspended reality for a few minutes - like putting a music video in the middle of Gladiator.

Bakgat! 2 is a light-hearted, entertaining and heartwarming South African comedy. There are a few base comedy moments involving sex and fat jokes, but this doesn't seem unusual for the University setting. They tease the audience with some raucous scenes that play as though they're going to cross-the-line and then gather composure again to preserve the overall dignity of the film. It's far from subtle... but regularly gets the laughs with the odd inside joke or South Africanism. All-in-all it's a fun, rewatchable movie with a good balance of local charm and laughs.

The bottom line: Fun.

 

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