Toni Erdmann (Ger) ⭐⭐1/2

By no means a bad film but mis-sold as a comedy, I must confess that I do not understand the love and accolades that’s been lavished on this German film where I laughed exactly ONCE during its bum numbing 162 minutes. Overworked and underappreciated, Ines finds her not exactly happy life turned upside down when her prankster father visits with a hilarious pair of false teeth that makes him look like a German Barry Humphries. That potentially comedic set up can be the source of much cringe-worthy laughter but the rest of the film does not live up to those expectations as the narrative gets more surreal and frustratingly meandering and illogical. As a mildly amusing drama, the idea that she needs to loosen up, ‘have fun’ and confront the real problems in her life does not justify the sweet time the film takes to get that one point over. Sandra Huller’s portrayal of Ines is brave and even nuanced but the film is both sketchy and overstuffed at the same time. There are a few inspired moments that are awkwardly humorous and poignant (the Greatest Love of All scene, for example), some thoughtful insights on family values and it even takes a satirical stab at the ugly and sexist nature of the corporate workplace. But there are also far too many other moments that are neither funny nor significant or weighty enough to justify their existence (the jizz covered confectionary scene is gratuitous and gross, without adding any real substance to her character study), and more judicious editing could have made this film feel less onerous and head-scratching to watch. Or maybe I just don’t get German humour.

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