When Ozzy Osbourne first saw "This is Spinal Tap", supposedly he was the only one in the cinema thinking that it was a real documentary and wondering what the laughter was all about. If you happen to come from a middle-class family in southern Germany and particularly if you tend to spend your vacation in the north of Italy, say, Lago di Gada, you might have a similar reaction when watching "Man spricht Deutsh".
It is difficult to explain this film to people who're not familiar to the German language, culture and 'peculiarities' – even more difficult, if one has to explain it to somebody who's not from Southern Germany. Let's just say, it is a satire of all the above mentioned We witness the final hours of the holiday of the Löffler-family at their designated vacation spot in Terracina, on the west-coast of Italy: father Erwin (Polt), wife Irmgard (Giesella Schneeberger) and son Heinz Rüdiger (Thomas Geier). The Löfflers are as bourgeoisies as the German middle-class comes, (presumably) having come to the same spot, like a clock-work, every years.
In Terracina the Löfflers are among their own kind: Germans as far as the eye can see, pestered only by a few locals, running Restaurants, beach-stands and/or are lingering around, presumably just waiting to steal whatever the Germans haven't nailed to the floor. In one of the most memorable lines, a newcomer is introduced with the warning to keep his possessions save, since "there are many Italians around here".
Their final day is as uneventful as any other, having their pasty skins turned red by the sun, day-dreaming about what could or could not have been: father Löffler taking off with a hot-blooded Italian beauty, mother Löffler dreams about becoming winner at a local beauty queen contest or being kidnapped by millionaires who likewise spend their time at the beach. We witness a final celebratory lunch (which is left unconsumed by the family since they're not sure what's edible on the seafood-platter and not liking fish or seafood in the first place) and we witness how they write final postcards to friends and relatives in Germany, arguing about the correct postal addresses.
If you're thinking "stereotype" right now, then you're absolutely correct – but that's the problem most people have with stereotypes: they're usually true. Polt and director Müller have never been afraid to embrace stereotypes, which is no ordinary thing in Germany and too few comedians daring to put a mirror in the faces of their audience. However, the actor/director-duo don't do it in a mean or demeaning way, portraying their characters as stooges; just millions of straight-faced, blue-collar people like you and me (if you happen to have a middle-class Bavarian background).
Polt presents us a picture of bourgeoisies Germany that is as true as it is grotesque – take my word; I'm not talking out of prejudice but because I have numerous family-members that view "Man spricht Deutsh" not as a parody but as documentary. Every cliché is fulfilled – not because clichés are spiteful or wrong but because they repeat themselves so often that they often become reality.
Would I recommend this film to non-Germans? Well, if you want to acquaint yourself with the mentality and culture of Bavarian proletarians, yes, by any means. It's just too 'localized' for outsiders to get the inside jokes. Brilliant films – but beyond comprehension for people not familiar with the 'modern' German way-of-life, who, like mentioned traditional patrons of Lago di Gada will wonder what the joke is.
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