×

Crazy Monkey escapes from MTV cage

'Benoni' feature loosely follows group's beginnings

JOHANNESBURG — Benoni, a bleak, provincial mining town east of Johannesburg, famous for being thesp Charlize Theron’s hometown, is set to achieve a new level of international notoriety in a feature based on the popular Crazy Monkey inserts on MTV created by four South Africans, some of whom hail from — you guessed it — Benoni.

Titled “Crazy Monkey: Straight Outta Benoni,” the film was shot on location in the town over 28 days on a budget of just $1.3 million, and loosely follows the story of Crazy Monkey’s beginnings before it achieved global cult status through its wacky anti-hero MTV spots.

It is in post-production and will be released locally in August through Ster Kinekor.

Crazy Monkey’s success story started four years ago when commercials director and standup comedian Trevor Clarence, copywriter and writer Brendan Jack, actor and DJ Brett Goldin and copywriter Gavin Williams decided to have some fun with a video camera and make some offbeat video spots to submit to MTV.

They emulated the Jackass stunt group’s spots with “daring and dangerous” stunts of their own, such as drinking orange juice after cleaning their teeth, and hoped MTV would use a few of them at least once.

But MTV loved them, even flying the team to London to shoot Crazy Monkey for U.K. spots, and soon MTV regions in Europe, Canada, South America, Australia and Asia picked them up.

The feature was created by Clarence and Jack, and although it is based on their stunts, it has a “teen flick” story line, which helmer Clarence says is inspired by movies like “Dude, Where’s My Car.”

In the pic, friends from Benoni, Brendan and Gavin (played by themselves), lose their hot new jobs in advertising 24 hours before their 10-year high school reunion. Suddenly the pressure is on to achieve something to prove they are not losers. All they have to do is get their band signed, get cast in a movie, avoid being arrested, entertain a rowdy party, produce world-class marketing ideas, woo a starlet, get their picture in the newspaper and outsmart their arch-enemy, former head boy Chad, played by Colin Moss (“Egoli,” “Number 10”).

Clarence and Goldin also appear in the film with Tanit Phoenix (“Lord of War”) playing the female lead and appearances by several local celebrities and half of the residents of Benoni, who now call their town Benoniwood.

“Straight Outta Benoni” is produced and sponsored by Internet Solutions founder and IT start-up millionaire Ronnie Apteker, co-produced by Tendeka Matatu and executive produced by David Frankel, Joel Phiri and Jeremy Nathan of the DV8 feature production project.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Variety Announces 10 Actors to Watch

    Variety Announces 10 Actors to Watch for 2019

    Variety has announced its 10 Actors to Watch for 2019, an honor the publication has bestowed since 1998. Past honorees include many future Oscar winners and nominees, such as Mahershala Ali, Timothée Chalamet, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Brie Larson, Lupita Nyong’o and Melissa Leo. This year’s honorees will be feted in the Oct. 27 issue of [...]

  • August Maturo

    Film News Roundup: August Maturo to Star in Horror Movie 'Slapface'

    In today’s film news roundup, August Maturo gets a starring role and “Death of Me” and “Fatale” find homes. CASTING “Girl Meets World” star August Maturo has been cast as the lead character in the upcoming indie horror feature, “Slapface.” Maturo will play a man who deals with the loss of his mother by creating [...]

  • Dan Trachtenberg

    Tom Holland's 'Uncharted' Movie Loses Director

    Dan Trachtenberg has exited the director’s chair for Sony’s “Uncharted” movie starring Tom Holland, with the studio taking meetings with top filmmakers and production starting early next year. The studio confirmed Trachtenberg’s departure Thursday. It also said Sony-based PlayStation Productions — headed by Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan — had come on to produce alongside [...]

  • Participant Taps Anikah McLaren, Robert Kessel

    Participant Taps Anikah McLaren, Robert Kessel to Head Film Department

    Participant Media has named industry veterans Anikah McLaren and Robert Kessel as co-heads of the company’s film department with the titles of executive vice president. Both executives will report together to Participant CEO David Linde, who made the announcement Thursday. McLaren joins Participant having most recently served as a production executive for Fox Searchlight Pictures. [...]

  • 'The Son' Review: Bosnian Family Drama

    Sarajevo Film Review: 'The Son'

    It is a mixed blessing to be born in the aftermath of a war. On the one hand, you never have to experience the terror and suffering your parents did; on the other, you grow up with your own personal crises forever made to feel smaller by comparison. That, at least, is the frustration driving [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Box Office: Jennifer Lopez 'Hustlers' Heading for $25 Million Launch

    STX Entertainment’s “Hustlers,” a comedic thriller about strip-club employees seeking revenge, is expected to earn $25 million when it opens on Sept. 13, according to early tracking. The movie — starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Cardi B and Lizzo — will debut alongside Warner Bros.’ “The Goldfinch.” The drama, based on [...]

  • AMC TheatresShop signs, Los Angeles, America

    AMC Theatres Lays Off 35 Corporate Staffers

    AMC Entertainment has laid off 35 corporate staffers and will not fill an additional 15 open jobs. The Kansas-based chain made the announcement Thursday as part of a previously announced “profit improvement plan” intended to achieve operating and administrative efficiencies. AMC, which operates more than 10,000 movie screens, had disclosed the plan on Aug. 8 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content