As Spud Milton continues his awkward stagger through adolescence, he learns one of life's most important lessons: When dealing with women and cretins, nothing is ever quite as it seems. "... See full summary »
It's South Africa, 1990. Two major events are about to happen: The release of Nelson Mandela and, more importantly, it's Spud Milton's first year at an elite boys only private boarding school. John Milton is a boy from an ordinary background who wins a scholarship to a private school in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. Surrounded by boys with nicknames like Gecko, Rambo, Rain Man and Mad Dog, Spud has his hands full trying to adapt to his new home. Along the way Spud takes his first tentative steps along the path to manhood. (The path it seems could be a rather long road). Spud is an only child. He is cursed with parents from well beyond the lunatic fringe and a senile granny. His dad is a fervent anti-communist who is paranoid that the family domestic worker is running a shebeen from her room at the back of the family home. His mom is a free spirit and a teenager's worst nightmare, whether it's shopping for Spud's underwear in the local supermarket, or sneaking food into her handbag at ...Written by
The bed where Spud sleeps in the dormitory, is the actual bed where Spud writer, John Van De Ruit used to sleep when he was in the school. See more »
Spud says (on video night) that they are watching Pretty Woman. Then the TV news shows F.W. de Klerk dismantling the ANC which happened on Feb 2nd 1990.
Pretty Woman wasn't released in cinemas until 23rd March 1990, so they couldn't possibly be watching a video of a film that hadn't even been released yet. Also, Pretty Woman was never released in South African cinemas. See more »
He sings like and angel. Aren't you my china plate?
[pinches Spud's cheek]
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I don't know whether I can give an impartial review of this movie, but I'd like to try. You see, I was at the same school, but about 15 years before John van der Ruit. And I couldn't finish the book. It brought back too many unhappy memories. But I managed to stay the course for the movie ! Spud chronicles the first year for John (Spud) Milton at Michaelhouse, an elite boys-only boarding school in the KwaZulu-Natal countryside. It was filmed at the school itself, although for some reason the name was never mentioned, and the uniform, war-cry etc were all changed.
Spud is funny, touching, poignant, and the scenery is pretty too. I'm referring to the countryside around, but the young ladies in the cast contribute here as well. All actors are good/adequate in their roles, and John Cleese makes a creditable transition as an actor from clown to wise old man. Troye Sivan is very good as the bemused and put-upon Spud.
My problem with the book, and with the movie to a certain extent as well, is no fault of John van der Ruit or the movie makers themselves. It's about the people that you have to live with in such a situation.
I spent 5 years at Michaelhouse, and 2 years in National Service, and what made both times a lot less happy than they needed to be, were the people who went out of their way to make other people's lives unpleasant. In Spud it's Rambo, and to a lesser extent, one or two others in the Crazy Eight. Rambo especially, cannot just get on with his life and let others get on with theirs, he has to drag everyone along on his idiotic escapades. And then when they go awry, everyone has to pay. A thoroughly unpleasant person, but one who brought back memories of many such people in school and the army.
It's ironic that one of the books that the Guv offers to Spud, "Catch 22", falls into the same category for me. I've tried to read it twice ! But I find the character of Yossarian to be very similar to Rambo, and I can't get past a certain point. Maybe my reading of it is too coloured by my life in these 2 institutions.
I hope there are sequels and that we can follow Spud throughout his scholastic career. My life at Michaelhouse improved over the years as I learned to ignore the idiots and pursue my own interests. Let's hope we can trace Spud's rise similarly.
And I hope at the end of the final chapter, the camera lingers on the charge over the doorway into the Memorial Hall - a charge that I passed on to my own son at his coming of age - QUIT YOU LIKE MEN !
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