A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The supposed benefits of "civilization," including technology and government, aren't always helpful.
Positive Role Models
Xi, an African belonging to the San peoples, understands nothing of the modern world. In doing so, he reveals just how ridiculous, and sometimes even barbaric, "civilization" can be. This is presented as admirable.
The film stereotypically portrays Indigenous San peoples of southern Africa as both innocent and wise, rather than as complex human beings. A White narrator speaks for the Kalahari Desert San characters, while others, especially White characters, have dialogue and are given more agency. No country is specifically mentioned, presenting a generalized depiction of "Africa." Some Black Africans appear bumbling and violent, while White characters are presented as saviors, such as when Xi is saved from prison by working as a guide for a White scientist.
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Violence & Scariness
An attempted coup includes a machine-gun massacre of government officials, followed by a madcap chase scene through the jungle as the rebels flee the army. School children get caught in the middle of another long gunfight. But overall, the violence has a slapstick quality, and there's no blood, gore, or dead bodies.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Chaste, bumbling flirting. A few scenes show bare breasts in a nonsexual context.
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Characters occasionally say "hell," and "s--t" is used once. White characters refer to Indigenous San characters as "Bushmen" -- usually in a neutral context, but it often sounds condescending, as in "the little Bushman."
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Products & Purchases
The plot is kicked into motion by an errant Coke bottle, which is seen frequently throughout the film.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Gods Must Be Crazy is a 1980s comedy that follows an Indigenous San character in the Kalahari Desert and reveals the follies of modern life. There are several gunfights, including a political massacre when guerillas burst into a cabinet meeting and shoot wildly. But overall, the violence has a slapstick quality, and there's no blood, gore, or dead bodies. A few scenes show topless women in a nonsexualized context. The film uses stereotypes about the African continent and its people as innocent and uncivilized. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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?
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.