A travesty to the myth of Van
THAT man Van got his own movie and it sucked. For a perennial screw up like Van der Merwe – and we all have a story about him – it shouldn’t really come as a surprise. But it feels like an opportunity squandered when presented with a character that everybody knows, many people love, but nobody has seen. Not to mention a stellar cast.
It’s ultimately, a question of focus. With Rob Van Vuuren in the lead role, the anticipation builds for a Corne and Twakkie meets Dumb and Dumber with every conceivable South African stereotype laid out to dry like biltong in the Vrystaat sun. Stupid yes, but that’s the basis for every Van der Merwe joke.
Instead, we get a rom-com, mild as a melktert with flou tea. Already established as the village idiot and really, check the worry in my eye, lazy farm lay about, Van Der Merwe gets a jolt to the system when his daughter intends marrying an Englishman. His father (Roberts), already unimpressed with his son, forces him to try to sabotage the marriage. Like Van der Merwe could get that right.
With his heart in the right place (he just wants to please everybody) and his co-ordination all thumbs, Van der Merwe manages to infuriate his longsuffering wife, his daughter and the visiting in-laws before he grows a pair and love conquers all.
Everything comes together so neatly in the end that its easy to forget that the principal character in this film is a bumbling fool. Apart from one gross-out joke involving a constipated cow and a drug overdose à la
Death At A Funeral, there’s no mad-cap adventure, no lost-intranslation hilarity, no amusing misunderstandings. The farce is that there is no farce.
And so Van Der Merwe, an Englishman and their extended families resolve their differences and get their children married. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.
The cast of Van Der Merwe.