It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
I was looking at the laserdisc of "Mr. Hulot's Holiday" the other day - that wonderful Jacques Tati comedy about a whimsical fisherman who takes his holiday by the sea. And I realized how much the movie's opening scenes benefitted from the character of his automobile - one of those ancient and obscure European models that was so small his head almost stuck out of the top of it, like in a cartoon. "The Gods Must Be Crazy II" gets the same sort of effect with a corky little airplane barely large enough to contain two passengers and a tank of gas.
The airplane isn't the only point of connection between the two movies. I do not mean to compare the great Tati with Jamie Uys, the director of both "The Gods Must Be Crazy" movies - that wouldn't be fair - but there's something of the same spirit in the work of the two men, and in these gloomy times it is welcome. Most movie humor these days springs from verbal or physical insult, ridicule, or unfunny "jokes" based on special effects and violence. The biggest laughs come when a character gets killed in an unexpected way.
Tati didn't work like that, and neither does Uys. "The Gods Must Be Crazy II" is the work of a patient craftsman, who gets his laughs out of the careful construction of elaborate physical and plot situations. Some of his buildups last for most of a movie, and his punchlines usually are inspired by character traits, not dumb gags.
Uys's style sheds a sweet and gentle light on this new comedy, which is a sequel to the surprising international success - and, I think, a better film.