Alles Auf Zucker!

"Weak"

Alles Auf Zucker! Review


This farcical mishmash of a comedy about a Jewish family coming together after years of separation on different sides of the Berlin Wall turns basic greed into bonding and forgiveness. The humor is a bit exaggerated -- okay, it's so exaggerated it'll test your patience -- but the cultural themes and practices will hit home to the Jewish demographic with considerable familiarity. Trouble is, familiarity doesn't necessarily translate into appreciation.

Jackie Zucker (Henry Hubchen) is a pool shark living in dependent circumstances in what was East Germany. He owes money to everyone, and his wife, disgusted by his pattern of false promises, throws him out of the house. His life is headed for the streets.

But when his mother dies, and a will emerges, that slippery slope comes to a screeching halt. In fact, things suddenly look way up for Jackie, with his wife taking a whole new interest in his losing ways. Smelling a possible fortune coming his way, she turns into his manager, sitting at his side as they listen to mom's rabbi-in-charge reciting the requirements of the will.

First, they have to become orthodox and carry out all the laws and practices of a strict Jewish home. She's more into it than he is, but they set about to kosher things up, with a vengeance. That's not all. The next demand is that Jackie must reconcile with his estranged brother Samuel (Udo Samel), who left the East with mom before the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961. Jackie, perfectly comfortable with the communist regime, stayed behind, incurring his brother's wrath and lack of forgiveness.

Jackie, a bit of a free-wheeling loose-nut, refers to his stoic brother as "Uncle Ayatollah." Their differences begin with religious commitments but he's astounded when Samuel arrives with his entire "mishpoocha" (brood) along for the required seven days of "sitting Shiva" together -- yet another condition of the will. West must go East because mom wants to be buried at her place of birth.

The exact monetary benefit of the inheritance being dangled before them like a flashy lure is purposely withheld so that the characters are free to imagine a grand payoff for their pains.

The completely predictable nature of director/co-writer Dani Levy's comedy, based on mercenary motivations, is worsened by frantically performed stereotypes, forced gags, and obvious symbolic references, as in Germany's own need for reconciliation. Which may explain why this first Jewish-themed comedy filmed in Germany since the war has been a huge success at the German Film Awards and considered there as a turning point in cinema dealing with sensitive wartime guilt. But that reaction only reflects tastes and responses at home. As for the international audience, this indulgence of cultural irony is too weighted with overdressing and fat to travel all that well.

DVD extras include a making-of featurette.

Aka Go for Zucker!, All for Zucker!.



Facts and Figures

Production compaines: WDR, X Filme, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Arte

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Dani Levy

Producer:

Starring: Henry Hübchen as Jackie Zucker, Hannelore Elsner as Marlene, as Samuel, Golda Tencer as Golda, Steffen Groth as Thomas, Anja Franke as Jana, as Joshua, as Lilly, as Rabbi Ginsberg, Inga Busch as Irene, Antonia Adamik as Sarah, Renate Krößner as Linda, Bernd Stegemann as Gerichtsvollzieher

Also starring:

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