A Journalist of Jewish descent in Berlin feels that he is a loser of the political changes in Germany after 1989. When his mother dies, he has to meet his brother to whom he has not talked ... See full summary »
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Isild Le Besco,
Nahuel Pérez Biscayart,
A Journalist of Jewish descent in Berlin feels that he is a loser of the political changes in Germany after 1989. When his mother dies, he has to meet his brother to whom he has not talked for years and to meet all his other family members. But during the preparations for the funeral he plays a snooker-cup for paying his debts with the money for the victory, and many other things mixes up. Written by
Silly, Broad Comedy of German Jewish Reconciliation that Has Endearing Moments
"Go for Zucker! (Alles auf Zucker!)" is a broad, comic take on East vs. West reconciliation issues in Germany today that was done better in "Goodbye, Lenin!."
Co-writer/director Dani Levy goes further in making German audiences comfortable to laugh at their 20th century history by somewhat ridiculously adding in the Jewish issue, both past and contemporary. He makes it safe to joke about the Holocaust and its aftermath.
There have been countless comedies through the decades that have scheming beneficiaries pretend something or other in order to claim an inheritance (marriage, children, etc. etc.). Here, the premise is Jewish brothers and their families separated by the construction of the Berlin Wall need to reconcile and be observant Jews. But the joke, as they accuse each other, is that one grew up with the religious attitudes of Stalin and the other like the Ayatollah.
This is first played for very broad laughs, as the ex-Communist brother's estranged Aryan wife frantically tries to learn Jewish household rules through a kind of "Kosher for Dummies" book, while he's off gambling. Similarly, the Orthodox Jewish family displays every stiff visual stereotype of piety known to film, from the long beards to the triple chins on the wife.
The actors playing the older generation who lived through Germany's traumas are very world-weary effective. There's a lot of running around like a French parlor comedy. Their adult kids are mostly silly and too slapsticky sexually confused. Maybe it's a German comic thing that the men are all passive dolts, the women are sexually aggressive and their relationships make no sense.
The best parts of the film are when the brother from the East is comically doing his funny grifter thing to get into a pool tournament and, at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, when the brothers actually start to communicate about how history tore up their family. This makes history personal and poignant amidst the laughs. Everyone turns out to have faults and secrets, including the rabbi who is supposed to moderate. Some of the Frankfurt vs. Berlin jokes probably have more meaning to the German audience.
For all the film's silliness and stereotypes, it does end up endearing.
The subtitling is very difficult for an American audience. The opening credits are very funny, with the Eastern brother talking to and over the camera (a technique that continues throughout the swooping camera work). However, the subtitles are mixed in with the credits and are impossible to read. The subtitlers just assumed that any English speakers coming to see the film would understand Yiddish, as all the Yiddish expressions by the Western brother and his family are just transliterated as Yiddish and are not translated, though some words are not that widely part of American conversation and could be a problem for some viewers.
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