Directed by: Bora Dağtekin
The second German film I watched this year was also a comedy, and thankfully this one was a lot more entertaining.
After 13 months in prison, all Zeki Müller (Elyas M’Barek) wants to do is get his hands on his money, which a friend has thoughtfully buried for him … on a construction site. Only it’s not a construction site anymore, it’s the new sports hall of the local high school. So what to do? Get a job there, obviously! Hoping to replace the old janitor, Zeki somehow finds himself as the new substitute teacher. And some of the kids are in serious need of discipline …
It’s not long before swotty trainee teacher Lisi Schnabelstedt (Karoline Herfurth) discovers that he’s a fake and forces him to take over nightmare class 10b. Accustomed to scaring off normal teachers with terrible practical jokes, they certainly aren’t prepared for someone who swears at them, turns up drunk and shoots them with a paintball gun!
But while Zeki spends his nights drilling under the hall to get at his loot, he finds himself caring more and more about both Lisi and his students. Written off by his own teachers as a good-for-nothing, he decides to show them that criminality is not a good career choice and that they can achieve whatever they want. Inevitably, his true identity is eventually discovered, but it’s no surprise that things turn out well.
Obviously, comedy is very subjective and there are potentially objectionable points – deriving humour from someone drugging a woman’s drink (to steal her CV) and calling schoolchildren things like “mental defectives”. There is also a hell of a lot of swearing (the film is rated 12 in Germany). However, it's completely unrealistic, very well meaning and quite sweet - and I laughed a lot.
The DVD I bought in Germany came with English subtitles, which do have an American slant (e.g. when talking about school grades). The only problem I could find with them actually has nothing to do with the subtitles themselves - there is a lot of slang and a recurring joke regarding German grammar, two things that are very difficult to translate. Given how quickly the characters often speak, spitting out insults in seconds, I think the subtitlers have done an admirable job.