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There isn't even a year between this and the release of Til Schweiger's previous film, "Keinohrhasen" ("Rabbit without Ears"). Thankfully, he didn't write the script this time around, so in the ever-growing Schweiger canon this film stands out: Instead of making a romantic comedy about an irresponsible manchild who learns to commit to a meaningful relationship by the end, this one is a broad medieval comedy. It has therefore more in common with similar German period spoof films, like the "7 Zwerge" ("7 dwarfs") movies or the earlier films by Michael Herbig, although none of these are set in medieval times.
A big advantage of Schweiger giving screenwriting duties to other people is the fact that he plays a different character than in all his other movies. His stale performance in "Keinohrhasen" didn't convince me of his acting talent, but I found him rather enjoyable here. He is still sloppily mumbling through his lines and his face muscles rarely move, but put a silly wig on him and write him as somewhat socially awkward, and you can make his role kind of funny and refreshing.
All the other players in this movie, most of them television personalities rather than actors, don't venture out of their comfort zone, and are therefore not as refreshing. The casting of Thomas Gottschalk as King Gunther is technically spot-on, but unfortunately Gottschalk takes his role far too seriously. Same for Udo Kier. The only genuinely good performance comes from Rick Kavanian, but that doesn't mean he made me laugh.
That's because the script is painfully unfunny. Some of the comedy bits are lifted from better films, and stupid pseudo-gags are extended way beyond what is appropriate. Which might be the reason behind the long running time. There is no justification for this movie being almost two hours long, it just makes its glaring writing and pacing issues even more apparent.
Many movies like this feature some anachronistic jokes, which often makes it hard for me to develop some interest or belief in their fictional worlds, but those jokes are often reserved for quick one liners, and since these films are typically quite fast-paced, they don't take me out of the story. In "1 1/2 Ritter," however, the pacing is painfully slow, so there is nothing to compensate for all the jokes that don't land or take you out of the movie. The performances, as described above, are very low-energy, so even they don't compensate for the lack of genuine comedy writing. Compare this to the movies I listed as comparisons above (which, mind, are no masterpieces either).
As a director, Schweiger is clearly out of his depth directing action scenes. A movie like this doesn't need good action because, unlike most historical dramas, the story doesn't require extended fight scenes, but that didn't stop Schweiger from including them anyway. And because he apparently couldn't afford a stunt double to perform some good choreography, all of them consist of rapidly edited close-ups of Schweiger going "hrrrng!" and violently punching his enemies.
As for improvements: At least the pictures in the film have a little more colour in them than in "Keinohrhasen," the camera work in general is pretty good, and the soundtrack is well-placed and might even be listenable if you listen to it independent from the movie.
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