'Gods II' called adorable nonsense suitable for children

October 21, 1990|By Joe Baltake | Joe Baltake,McClatchy News Service

Minireviews of movies released last week on videocassette:

"The Gods Must Be Crazy II," PG. South African filmmaker Jamie Uys' absolutely adorable follow-up to his 1984 hit is a bit of playful, elemental nonsense about something very important: harmony. Mr. Uys plops us right in the middle of a cozy bedtime story/fireside tale (take your pick) in which "survival of the fittest" doesn't play as big a part in the awesome wilderness of the Kalahari Desert of Botswana as does the simple notion of getting along. The outsize absurdities of African life and the discontinuities experienced by an assortment of travelers sort themselves out only through the soothing tonic of friendliness.

"The Gods Must Be Crazy II" is a sweet-tempered little movie with a fresh corner of the world to explore and with a common feature that everyone in its cast shares: They all have enchanting smiles. I can think of few better films for children at the moment.

"Strapless," R. This is one of those films that somehowmysteriously, comes with both the right credentials and incredible bad taste. It's an awful TV movie that managed to get theatrical release (in some art houses), and, believe me, with Blair Brown in the lead, it isn't half as much fun as it would have been on the smaller screen, with either Jacklyn Smith or Victoria Principal emoting away.

Ms. Brown plays a rather tight (as in uptight and repressed) U.S. physician who has been living and work

ing in Great Britain in one of its National Health hospitals. She goes on vacation to Portugal and meets a handsome, mysterious stranger (Bruno Ganz) who courts her throughout her vacation and then pops up on her doorstep back in England. They marry, and later he disappears, leaving Lillian confused and insecure. Then he returns and she finds that, that . . . Well, I won't spoil the big secret for you.

"Loose Cannons," R. Dan Aykroyd is supposed to be a genius suffering from multiple-personality disorder, but he emerges more as a bubble-brained TV/movie addict who has absorbed and committed to memory every bit of pop-culture junk and pointless bit of TV/movie trivia imaginable. Mr. Aykroyd's Ellis Fielding is a genuinely funny character, a would-be cop (teamed with Gene Hackman), and what's even funnier is that everyone else in the film does indeed think he's a genius.

"The First Power," R. The splatter epics of the past decade can be safely divided into several subgenres, with "The First Power" fitting neatly into the "beast-who-wouldn't-die" category represented by Jack Sholder's novel "The Hidden" and Wes Craven's "Shocker." This is the one about the manic whose sick, murderous ways can't be suppressed, not even after death, because he struck a deal with some higher evil force.

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