A trav­esty to the myth of Van

The Star Early Edition - - TONIGHT - PAUL EKSTEEN

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.

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