Parents' Guide to

The Gods Must Be Crazy

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

1980s film comments on modern society; guns, stereotypes.

Movie PG 1984 109 minutes
The Gods Must Be Crazy Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 8 parent reviews

age 13+


Unlike the listing says, there is a lot of cultural nudity in the beginning including many topless women. So be prepared. There is also some language like GD, bloody, bastard,hell but not a lot. I watched this as a kid and didn't really remember it except that it was funny. It was funny but not as much as i remembered.
age 7+

A Gentle and Lighthearted Film, Combining Easygoing Comedy with a Unique Sociological Viewpoint

The Gods Must Be Crazy is a very sweet, kind-hearted comedy, back from the pre-South Park days when comedies were able to be sweet and kind-hearted (nothing against South Park itself, mind you). It tackles some darker themes and contains intense, in concept, story-beats, but it's such a breezy film that even the climax, which involves machineguns and child hostages, keeps you engaged but never makes you fearful. It contrasts a wise and observant Bushman against "civilized" people who he interacts with on his way to the edge of the world, which he is trying to reach to rid the world of a Coke bottle; this sounds like a joke, but the movie's opening sequence (which I would refer to as an extended Prologue, rather than a First Act) smartly shows how the bottle, because of its beauty and versatility, has caused their society's first real inner-conflict, as it made people, for the first time ever, wish to have something and refuse to share it with the others. The title 'The Gods Must Be Crazy' is in reference to this, as rather than seeing this as an evil act by their gods, the Bushmen see it as a clumsy miscalculation on their part (their main observation being that the gods only sent one). And while the movie has various plot-threads, the one of the main Bushman walking to the end of the Earth is the main one. Fortunately, the movie does not go for the easy fish-out-of-water gags, such as the Bushman being on a city bus or trying to interact with a phone or radio, the film wisely keeps things in a rural setting, and keeps things on a small an intimate level. There are plenty of gags, most visual, but none are to the Bushman's expense, the closest exceptions being when the narrator explains how the Bushman is processing the oddities of modern technological human (like where he sees a slow moving car, and describes it as "a most strange animal, whose legs moved round and round instead of up and down"). There are no intense emotional beats (like him coming across many bottles in a bin, and being mortified), and the hardships that he experiences are shown to be grueling, but not at all crippling, or enough to break his spirit or determination. Probably the best thing about this movie is that the main character of the Bushman is not only smart, but he's actually the most level-headed, with technological humans shown to live a life that is equal parts better and worse than his; they have more comfort and convenience, but the complications of it are exhausting. And he, along with the other main heroes, do part ways on a very positive note of good-will. In a sense, the movie is telling us that both are good, but maybe the proud members of technological society should take a queue from the Bushmen, who live happier lives simply due to the lack of day-to-day headaches. This film is a great watch for kids, as the comedic beats are done perfectly in ways that will make them laugh, and the darker, more serious aspects are those that they will discover when they watch it older, adding a layer of depth. In a sense you could say it works in the same way that Robocop does, but in the opposite way: Robocop is a movie that attracts kids because it has robots, guns, explosions and swears, and it's only when they get older that they realize that it has a bigger message - The Gods Must Be Crazy is exactly the same, only instead here, kids love it because it's high-energy, wacky and has a carefree tone, hiding a bigger message underneath.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (8 ):
Kids say (4 ):

This 1980s comedy is full of clichés about African peoples. The Gods Must Be Crazy creates ridiculous situations by making its Indigenous San characters look naive but wise, which strips them of any deeper humanity. Indeed, San characters have no dialogue, and Black African characters are drawn in the broadest strokes, either innocent or violent, but nothing in between. It's a high-concept comedy ... but who do the laughs come at the expense of?

Movie Details

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