Saturday, September 19, 2009

Otto - The Movie

Otto - Der Film; Comedy, Germany, 1985; D: Xaver Schwarzenberger, Otto Waalkes, S: Otto Waalkes, Jessika Cardinahl, Elisabeth Wiedeman, Sky du Mont

Somewhere in the sea, Otto is floating in a toilet. He narrates what happened: as a young boy, he lived in northern Germany surrounded by too much care from his mother, so he moved to town as a grown up. There he borrowed money from a credit loaner, Shark, and from there on he owes 9.876, 50 DEM. Otto opens his own store that doesn't do well, but when the rich Silvia falls from the building, he saves her. Unfortunately, the only award he gets is vine. Even though she is engaged, she falls in love with Otto, but gets disappointed by him and leaves. After getting rid of his debt, Otto followes her to a flight to Rio de Janeiro, but lands the plane in the sea. On an island, the couple finds to each other.

The first film by one of the most famous German comedians of the 80s and 90s, Otto Waalkes, after the producers persuaded him for 5 years to finally film it, is an amusing and appropriately restrained comedy, probably the best in the long "Otto" movie series. Many comedians are distracted once they are ordered to make a film, often making the mistake of not being natural but trying to act "someone else" once on the big screen, though Otto managed quite well, delivering a refreshingly relaxed performance - truth be told, however, the hero isn't always funny, the direction by Xaver Schwarzenberger is wooden while the modest budget makes it look cheap. Still, "Otto - The Movie" became the most commercially successful film at the German box office in the 20th Century with 14 million viewers. German humor can sometimes be even more hermetic than the British one, but here most of the jokes were simple and accessible: for instance, in one scene, Otto narrates: "My parents loved me like their own son". When the criminals rob a bank, they constantly speak out their names aloud and even the route they want to take for their getaway, whereas when Otto sends a homing pigeon by mail (!) it gets finished off by a seal. A simple and good queue of jokes.


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