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What to Do in Case of Fire (Was tun, wenn's brennt?) (2002)



Average Rating: 5.8/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 2,773

My Rating

Movie Info

What to Do in Case of Fire is a stylish German comedy from director Gregor Schnitzler. A 20-year-old bomb goes off in an abandoned mansion in present day Berlin, and all the evidence implicates a a group of anarchists that planted the explosives in the late 1980s . By this time, however, most of the original group have become hip urban professionals who don't want to be associated with revolutionary activity. With the police hot on their trail, they reunite for the first time in 12 years to plot

Nov 12, 2002

Columbia Pictures

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All Critics (28) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (12) | Rotten (12) | DVD (5)

You might not buy the ideas. But you'll definitely want the T-shirt.

September 27, 2002 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In his U.S. debut, Mr. Schnitzler proves himself a deft pace master and stylist.

September 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
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[Schweiger is] talented and terribly charismatic, qualities essential to both movie stars and social anarchists.

September 12, 2002 Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly
L.A. Weekly
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Thoughtful, even stinging at times, and lots of fun.

August 20, 2002 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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An enthralling, entertaining feature.

August 16, 2002 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
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It's all entertaining enough, but don't look for any hefty anti-establishment message in what is essentially a whip-crack of a buddy movie that ends with a whimper.

July 28, 2002
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Has an energy and enthusiasm that certainly works in fits and starts, but taken as a whole, it's a few explosions (and a lot of yearning) signifying very little.

January 24, 2004 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

The formula is executed with such efficiency that you can't help being entertained, right? Right? Jawohl!

October 15, 2003 Full Review Source:

It's like a "Big Chill" reunion of the Baader-Meinhof Gang, only these guys are more harmless pranksters than political activists.

January 3, 2003 Full Review Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Starts off with a bang, but then fizzles like a wet stick of dynamite at the very end. It's still worth a look.

September 13, 2002 Full Review Source:

For a film that celebrates radical, nonconformist values, What to Do in Case of Fire? lazily and glumly settles into a most traditional, reserved kind of filmmaking.

August 19, 2002
San Francisco Examiner

With recent tensions rekindled by the Kathleen Soliah trial and the upcoming trial of SLA members Emily and William Harris, not to mention Sept. 11, its difficult these days to appreciate Fire's bright side.

July 19, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

The notion that bombing buildings is the funniest thing in the world goes entirely unexamined in this startlingly unfunny comedy.

July 18, 2002 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Schnitzler's film has a great hook, some clever bits and well-drawn, if standard issue, characters, but is still only partly satisfying.

July 18, 2002
New Times

Schnitzler does a fine job contrasting the sleekness of the film's present with the playful paranoia of the film's past.

June 27, 2002 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

A high-spirited buddy movie about the reunion of Berlin anarchists who face arrest 15 years after their crime.

June 20, 2002 Full Review Source: Compuserve

Audience Reviews for What to Do in Case of Fire (Was tun, wenn's brennt?)

I enjoyed this movie. The fact alone that a major studio in Germany would back a movie about old friends (who were anarchist squatters no less) who reunite after an old forgotten bomb goes off, in order to cover up their misdeeds and attempt to "get away with it" is amazing! The story, music, and characters are all fast-paced. Very enjoyable.
December 6, 2010

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]"What to Do In Case of Fire" begins in 1987 when a group of six anarchists plant a bomb in Berlin. The bomb goes unexploded until 2000 when it goes off, injuring two. The police crack down on all of the leftists in Berlin(but none of the fascists?) and raid the squat where two of the group, Tim and Hatte, still reside. They confiscate an awful lot of evidence, including incriminating film of them making and planting said bomb.(The film was made to show their intended progeny what such badasses they were in their youth.) At which point, Poland is starting to look pretty good...but Tim and Hatte decide to recruit their former comrades in a daring plan to liberate the film from police headquarters before the cops have a chance to view it...[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]"What to Do In Case of Fire" gets off to a fun, engaging start but then ends up being just another bit of feel good manipulation. The movie is a shallow take on radical activists, rarely mentioning politics at all and not even bringing up what the group was hoping to achieve. And leftists may mellow once they leave the movement, but they usually either still try to help people or work within the system to change it. The activism does not entirely leave their systems.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]Note: Not all anarchists plant bombs. Some of us are pacifists. And there are some anarchists who are even nice and cute.[/font]
December 24, 2005
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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