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Unlike their counterparts in the US, the UK, France, Canada and Israel, German filmmakers have mostly shied away from making Jewish-themed comedies. Given the country's recent history, it had been considered taboo to portray Jews on film in stories other than ones that dealt with the Holocaust. In 2005, writer-director Dani Levy threw political correctness to the wind and came out with GO FOR ZUCKER!: AN UNORTHODOX COMEDY (or ALLES AUF ZUCKER in German), a film that poked fun at today's German Jews. The movie was a huge success, dominating the German Film Awards that year taking six Golden Lolas including ones for Best Feature Film, Best Director and Best Leading Actor.
In GO FOR ZUCKER!, bar owner, scheming gambler and pool shark Jaeckie Zucker (Henry Hübchen) is finding that his run of good luck is quickly coming to an end. His creditors want their money, he's about to lose his bar and his wife wants a divorce. At the same time, his mother passes away and she leaves Jaeckie with a challenge in order to get his share of the estate: He has to make peace with his estranged brother, Samuel (Udo Samel). But it's not so easy. Samuel is an orthodox Jew living in Frankfurt whereas Jaeckie, who lives in the former East Berlin, is about as secular as they come. Even his long-suffering wife, Marlene (Hannelore Elsner) is a gentile. To get his hands on the inheritance and pay off his debts, Jaeckie has to come up with his most elaborate scheme yet.
The film not only skewers religion - the scenes where Marlene becomes an overnight Yiddishe Mame (Jewish mother) are hysterical - but it also takes a jab at the relations between East and West Germans, who had only been reunified for 15 years at that time. In a country where movie audiences were meant to feel guilty about their treatment of Jews during the Second World War, this film was groundbreaking.
I must admit that I have a special affinity for this film because I brought it to Hong Kong in 2005 when I was running the Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival. It apparently took Levy four years to make the film because financial backers were reluctant to fund a Jewish comedy. Producers and older Jewish filmmakers in Germany also urged him to give up on the project. German filmmakers of Jewish-themed comedies still have a long way to go before they catch up to their counterparts in other countries but, with GO FOR ZUCKER!, they took a huge step forward.
This is an often quirky and sometimes funny German film but I could not really get into it. I kept on thinking that there are so many better family drama films and if I wanted to see pool I would watch the Hustler. I guess this one was unique because it focused on the touchy subject of German Jews. I still have no answer to the Hustler though.
The story of a German Jewish gambler on a losing streak, set to the backdrop of a Germany in important political transition. A comedy that means to please, and means well, but in all its length is unable to make us want to side with its central character.
"Il n'est jamais trop tard pour devenir juif" dit l'un des personnages. C'est le point de depart de cette sympathique comedie, pas desopilante mais bien ecrite.
A pretty good, though not outstanding comedy with a pretty amazing premise. A Jewish mother dies, leaving a will that will only be decided if she's given a proper Jewish burial, and if her two sons would bury the hatchet. The problem is, is that one of her sons is totally Orthodox Jewish, and the other one is definitely not. BUT WE'LL TRY! Oh right, the unorhodox guy has an important pool tournament that takes place smack in the middle of the Jewish observance of his Mom's death. Plenty of other problems raise their head, and most of it is quite funny. The script though, does lose steam about 3/4 of the way through, but this made me laugh at the right places,
Pretty funny. Great acting.
I wish I'd been born in the DDR so I could take advantage of all this East German nostalgia. This movie was ok, but also creepily incestual.
I was actually initially inclined to turn it off and not finish it, but about twenty minutes in, I was glad I gave it a chance. An oddly funny family "tragicomedy," if you will.
clichee overloaded commedy-attempt
i think the movie just can't decide where it want's to go:
too many clichees and too predictable for a good comedy, no actual personalities and too shallow for a serious movie ...
too bad - everything touched by the movie could be handled better, either as comedy or as a drama - not many good movies on the subjects of the rules-ridden judaism ...
and seriously ... how incestuous is that family and why does noone find this questionable?
This was cute, not memorable though. Pretty funny and clever. However, the constant usage of heart attacks was too much and became anticlimaxic after a while.