Director: Til Schweiger
Screenplay: Anika Decker, Til Schweiger
In 2008, 6.2 million Germans flocked to the cinema to see actor/writer/director/producer Til Schweiger’s romantic comedy Keinohrhasen. No small feat by any means, considering that Keinohrhasen drew more of a German audience than Hollywood heavyweights such as Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Ratatouille, Shrek the Third, Spiderman 3 and Night at the Museum – to name but a few. In fact the only film from 2007 that Keinohrhasen didn’t bring in more viewers than was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which brought in just over 7 million. If any of this seems a tad surprising to you, well, that’s because it really is. Especially for a rom-com.
Schweiger plays the lead role of Ludo Dekker: a morally bereft tabloid journalist/ladies man, who would most likely have better luck recalling the title of the porno he watched the previous night than he ever would of recalling the name of whichever woman he’s just slept with. After a particularly invasive attempt at photographing the private wedding of a famous footballer goes horribly awry, Ludo is sentenced to 8 months in prison, a sentence which is suspended in exchange for 300 hours of community service at a local kindergarten. It’s at this point where Ludo’s past catches up with him and he encounters Anna (Nora Tschirner), a girl whom Ludo teased mercilessly years ago when they were both kids. As fate would have it, Anna is now one of the head instructors at the kindergarten where Ludo has been sentenced to complete his community service. Unsurprisingly, Anna doesn’t like Ludo. If you’ve ever seen a romantic comedy before, you can pretty much guess where the story goes from here.
Truth be told, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for rom-coms. Yes, they’re cheesy and maudlin, but they’re typically cheery enough to make for a decent and light night at the movies. Keinohrhasen does follow the rom-com mold well enough, but Anna’s hatred for Ludo is so over the top in the first act that her character really has nowhere left to go from that point on. As a result, she comes off quite flat and her sudden emotional turns are hardly credible. Ludo takes Anna’s rage and hatred in stride, never quite being bothered enough by any of it to create any sort of on screen chemistry between the two. Because of this, the relationship between Ludo and Anna barely takes on any more significance than any of Ludo’s past one night stands do. The film then evolves into a series of predictable plot points crammed with filler, in order to push this sucker past the 100 minute mark.
Rather unsurprisingly, Keinohrhasen‘s positive box office response has sent Hollywood calling, and an American remake is already in the works. I can’t see the film being improved upon by a watered down Hollywood remake – in fact what gives Keihohrhasen its little bit of edge are the bits that are too risque for American audiences. Those portions: the sometimes problematic status of Ludo’s cunnilingus skills, or Ludo being such a classy guy that even the porno films he watches are arty, black and white affairs, for example, will doubtlessly be the first to go. Schweiger’s film might simply be a rabbit without ears, but I’m willing to bet that an American remake will be a rabbit without everything else.