Young carpenter-apprentice Karl (Robert Seidl) grows up in Munich around the time of the last monarch, prince-regent Luitpold. A prophecy foretells that Karl will one day become a celebrated theatre-actor and comedian (much to the dismay of his father (Walter Sedlmayr), who wants to son to become a blue-collar worker). But for Karl the prediction is just the right excuse for his pranks, which he indiscriminately terrorizes his surrounding with (including thrusting sausages at Emperor Wilhelm II, smearing ink on the face of a banker or giving the dog of a local politician a shave).
The "Lausbubengeschichten"-Films, based on the stories of Ludwig Thoma of the 1960s and 70's were a major success in the cinema, especially in the southern part of Germany. Needless to say, the producer wanted to milk the recipe as long as possible, even after the reservoir of Thoma-stories ran dry. There were numerous spin-offs, many featuring the original "Lausbub" (eng: "Little Scoundrel") Hansi Krauss, typecasting the child-star forevermore. The stories were all literally the same: youthful scoundrel would play harmless, little pranks, usually targeting the adults-world that was perceived as unfair or unjust. No difference with "Die Jugendstreiche des Knaben Karl" (eng: "Youthful pranks of Karl, the boy"), apart that many of the scenes have been adopted from the works of comedian Karl Valentin.
Valentin (along with his regular co-player Lisl Karlstadt) may well be the most iconic Bavarian comedians of all time, considered somewhat of a national treasure, to whom squares and statues in Munich were dedicated. The "Charlie Chaplin of Germany" (as some have labeled him) was a jack of many trades, his sense of humour having been both artistic and anarchistic, incorporating elements of dada, expressionism and, perhaps most importantly, dialectic. A keen observer, Valentin would most often base his satirical plays and stories on everyday life of contemporary citizens (or, as they would say in German, "Durchschnittsbuerger").
Sadly, there is very little of that in "Die Jugendstreiche des Knaben Karl". Like said, apart from the basic skeleton of Valentin-works, this owns more to Ludwig Thomas' "Lausbubengeschichten" and is hence Karl Valentin only in name. The humour is conservative and harmless, just as you'd expect from any other "Lausbubengeschichten"-film. So, it's not really the most suitable tribute to one of the most important German comedians of his time that has not only influenced humorists like Loriot and Gerhard Polt, but also Bertholt Brecht and Samuel Beckett. Hence, no more than an average 5/10, despite featuring a staple of excellent folk-actors like Gustl Bayrhammer, Walter Sedlmayr, Hans Clarin and Beppo Brem, only recommended to completists and hardcore fans of the "Lausbuben"-flicks.
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