Winfried doesn't see much of his working daughter Ines. He pays her a surprise visit in Bucharest, where she's busy as a corporate strategist. The geographical change doesn't help them to see more eye to eye. Practical joker Winfried annoys his daughter with corny pranks and jabs at her routine lifestyle of meetings and paperwork. Father and daughter reach an impasse, and Winfried agrees to go home to Germany. Enter Toni Erdmann: Winfried's flashy alter ego. Disguised in a tacky suit, weird wig and fake teeth, Toni barges into Ines' work circle, claiming to be her CEO's life coach. As Toni, Winfried doesn't hold back, and Ines meets the challenge. The harder they push, the closer they become. In all the madness, Ines begins to see that her eccentric father deserves a place in her life.Written by
When Peter Simonischek's ancient dog dies, he has a breakdown and flies to Rumania to expend his existential crisis upon his daughter, Sandra Hüller. Were this a 70-minute movie, it might be quirky and eccentric, with some Important Message about Enjoying the Moment. However, it is not 70 minutes. It is 160 minutes, and so Herr Simonischek spends about two and a half hours tormenting his daughter -- and the audience -- until she has her own nervous breakdown and existential crisis.
How was this movie nominated for Best Foreign Movie? Did watching it cause an existential crisis, or is it that half the dialogue is in English, which must impress the largely Anglophone Academy? Also there are some quirky moments scattered through the movie; about five, making up almost a minute of its length. The rest of the jokes are neither numerous nor worth offering.
How do I know? Because these are the sort of jokes I would make. I would test them out on my cousin or one or two friends in a deadpan fashion. Take the joke the hero does about how his daughter is never there and even when she is, she is on the phone. Therefore, the joke goes, he has hired a young woman to play his daughter and clip his toe nails. My in-house testing -- so to speak -- would yield a result from a grunt (the worst rating, acknowledging it), to a question about how well she clips toe nails (the best rating). This would rate a grunt and so would be abandoned. Only the best rated jokes go into my repertoire. Not so in this movie.
As I indicated, at 70 minutes, this might have made a light, almost Tati-esque movie. At two hours and forty minutes, though, it is so Teutonic in its exhaustive detail that all I can do is marvel at its stultifying length.
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