Movie Review: Thys & Trix

From the outset, Thys & Trix is one of those South African comedies you’d expect to see Rob Van Vuuren in. The idea of equal-opposite Johannesburg cop siblings going undercover as a wealthy couple on an elite Mossel Bay golf estate to infiltrate a drug trafficking ring is perfectly poised for over-the-top performances, visual gags and slapstick comedy. While there are distant echoes of local cop comedies, Copposites and BlitzpatrollieThys & Trix draws inspiration from American comedies such as Keeping up with the Joneses and We’re the Millers.

Just go with it, this is a Bouwer Bosch film. The cult icon in Afrikaans music culture is gradually becoming South Africa’s answer to comedy actor-producer mogul, Adam Sandler. His films tend towards comedy… more specifically stoner comedy as evidenced by Vuil Wasgoed and now Thys & Trix, yet it’s a much more conservative take, more suitable for South African audiences. Director Quentin Krog, best known for Vir die Voels and Ballade vir ‘n Enkeling, tilts into full blown comedy without capsizing. While there’s a bit of spillage, the comic tone excuses some of the zanier twists-and-turns.

Leandie Du Randt (Bosch) and Bouwer Bosch are one of South Africa’s slow-burning power couples, playing co-leads in their latest film project, which sees them going head-to-head as brother and sister. Instead of a typical buddy movie, the sibling issues add another layer, direct opposites in terms of their approach to crime fighting. Bosch and Du Randt have got natural chemistry, which is used to good effect, funnier with the real-life undercurrent and both follow through with consistent, wink-wink performances. Bosch is great as the by-the-book, legalistic and conservative good cop, while the bad cop part seems to play to Du Randt’s strengths as the wild card.

“Stop or my sister will shoot!”

They venture forth with Brendon Daniels as their police captain turned butler, whose fish-out-of-water role could have been an edgy spin-off movie of its own. The comedy ensemble is solid and richer for the depth of smaller supporting roles. Richard Lukunku, Zak Hendrikz, Carine Rous and Charlie Bouguenon deserve special mention for their comedic performances as a police chief’s boot-licking second-in-command, a tennis club casual elitist, a mousy girl next door and flamboyant art dealer, respectively.

The siblings find themselves in compromising situations in order to follow through with their assumed identities as a married couple. Keeping up appearances is half the fun amid a range of colourful characters as the calamity amounts to lightweight escapism through lighthearted comedy. While Thys & Trix’s comedy does push towards breaking point and seems quite familiar, there’s enough fresh material on exhibition with the misadventure and silliness keeping the emphasis on fun, despite the recurring gag reflex gag.

This is a thinly scripted yet enjoyable film, pushing off stereotypes but creating a fresh spin on some typical comedic scenarios. The framing of the siblings and their relationship sets in motion the offbeat tone of this thoughtful movie. The golf estate product placements are overt… almost veering into an ad montage, but easy enough to get over since it forms part of the film’s setting. It also oversteps the mark with one twist too many but is spirited and silly enough to get the benefit of the doubt. Thys & Trix operates with plenty of heart and has some great little set pieces, even though it doesn’t really go very deep, offering offbeat, good-natured albeit mindless entertainment.

The bottom line: Upbeat