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Toni Erdmann

Slowwwww, and it does not speed up (spoilers - sort of)

(Edit) 16/10/2018

Watched it because of the overwhelmingly positive reviews, mainly from movie critics.

Review words like witty, wry, comedy, precision, deft, off-beat must have pushed my buttons and made me think "it's going to get going soon". In the last 40 minutes I resigned myself to "no it's not", and started hitting the fast forward button. When I got to the end, there was no "aha" moment in terms of comedy.

The humour is more like a 'grown up' Mr. Bean. Grown up in the sense that there are no banana peel moments, or even funny bits, just the embarrassing bits. The motivation of the daughter and the father are odd. Why did the father leave it until his daughter is in her 30's-40's to connect with her? Is his only comedy the insertion of his big fake teeth? Why would the daughter, on being surprised to find her father in the lobby at her work (wearing the false teeth) think it would be a good idea to invite him to the embassy where the customer she wants to impress is?

Guess what he turns up and is embarrassing.

Well the characters are kind of likeable in that they are not black or white. The dad is not the 'clown with the big wisdom' and the daughter is not the mindless capitalist. There is a kind of a story arc. The daughter starts to become less enamoured of her consultancy life, and even turns the tables on her dad in a couple of scenes. The film does ask the big questions: what is happiness, what is success, in a way that can come back to you after seeing the film. But the whole thing could have been condensed to twenty minutes.

I guess what makes it hard for me to suspend disbelief is that if the dad is such an odd-ball sage, and the daughter had grown up with him, she would never have chosen a cold corporate world; so his quick visit would not be the thing to snap her out of it. Not that it does entirely.

The bottom line is that if you find the film dull after half an hour, you'll still find it dull when you get to the end. Turn it off, and save yourself another 2 1/4 hours (enough time to watch something else). This is probably a good rule of thumb for all films that score over 90% on the tomatometer, and in the 70-80% range (or lower) for audience reviews. It is possible to find films that are good with those score combinations, but usually you will like them by the end of the first 30 minutes.

If you want to watch a funny German film watch Männer (Men). A cuckold moves in with his wife's lover, who does not know he is the husband. If you want a quirky German film watch Lola rennt (Run Lola Run), or the Princess and the Warrior.

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