Otto - Der Film
- 1h 25m
Otto, a young man from East-Frisia, comes to the big city of Hamburg to make his fortune. Most of all he is engaged with two problems: How can he impress Silvia, a wealthy young girl; and wh... Read allOtto, a young man from East-Frisia, comes to the big city of Hamburg to make his fortune. Most of all he is engaged with two problems: How can he impress Silvia, a wealthy young girl; and where does he get 9876,50 DM to pay off a loan shark?Otto, a young man from East-Frisia, comes to the big city of Hamburg to make his fortune. Most of all he is engaged with two problems: How can he impress Silvia, a wealthy young girl; and where does he get 9876,50 DM to pay off a loan shark?
The story is simply: Otto is a young, innocent boy from a godforsaken Frisian island, who dreams of making it big in the Big City (namely Hamburg). But all doesn't go as planned once he arrives there. In fact, nothing goes as planned. In order to get cash and open a business – which consists of him making outrageous plans for all intents and purposes – he loans some money from a local loan-shark. Before he knows it, Otto (who didn't read the small print on the loan-sharks contract) finds himself in debt of exactly 9876,50 Mark. By chance and coincidence he rescues the life of Silvia (Jessika Cardinahl), daughter of a high-society lady and falls in love with her. Now Otto has to multi-task, forever trying to find a way to pay off his debt while trying to win the heart of his beloved, before she can marry the slimy socialite Ernesto (Sky du Mont).
It does not come as a big surprise that "Otto – The Film" went on to become the most successful German film at the box-office; a record that has not been broken yet. How else could it have been without aforementioned Otto-Boom? Technically it's a compilation of sketch-material and personas, pumped up by a cinema-production, tied together by the thin storyline and bolstered by numerous guest-appearances and cameos by well-known TV-personalities such as Johannes Heesters, Eberhard Feik ("Tatort"), Elisabeth Wiedemann (an accomplished comedian in her own rights) or Günther Kauffmann (a famed Afro-German actor since his time with Werner Rainer Fassbinder; the butt of this particular joke, namely that Otto considers himself "a negro too", because he has black/dirty feet as well, not really 'PC' by today's standards).
We'd have to lie if we'd claim that the humor has aged very well. There are dozens of spoofs and "cultural references", from "Jaws" to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" (which Otto spoofs on a graveyard, dressed up as Heino). But all those references – both to his own show and other movies – are kept in measure, leaving Otto as naïve, chaotic but still lovable bumpkin at the heart's core. Something that Otto wouldn't (or couldn't) replicate in later films, becoming a parody of himself and the references merely the flesh to his potatoes.
Is it compatible with foreign viewers? Hard to say. I'd give it a 30 percent "yes" and 70 percent "no". Sure, the goofy slapstick is rather universal, but unless you're fluent in German and know your way around the Germany of the 1970's and 80's, much of the wordplays and situation-humor will most likely escape you. So yes, it's probably more of a local affair.
"Otto – Der Film" would sadly remain the highlight of Waalkes career, which has since declined. Sure, the comedian made a few new fans with more contemporary films like "Sieben Zwerge" ("Seven Dwarf"), but to many old-school fans his desperate attempts to regain former glory are often saddening, if not pathetic. Waalkes had never developed or progressed an inch from the Otto-persona which he developed in the 70's, sticking to it to this very day, even when making public appearances or giving interviews. Hence, the word "tiresome" comes to mind. Again it shouldn't come as a surprise – sad as it is – that he went on to star in Germany's bestselling comedy of all times to making a cameo in "Kartoffelsalat", which has righteously earned its place in the IMDb's Bottom-100.
- Sep 26, 2016