DW's cinema team sets out to find Germany's sense of humor, picking the 10 funniest German films of all time. From slapstick to satire, the jokes in these movies don't get lost in translation.
This hilarious comedy by director Doris Dörrie had originally been planned for television. Finally, the producers decided to show "Men" in movie theaters - a wise choice. Thirty years ago, roughly six million people laughed their heads off watching this movie about men and women relationships, starring German actors Ulrike Kriener, Heiner Lauterbach and Uwe Ochsenknecht.
#9: Fack Ju Göhte
Over seven million people headed to the theaters to see "Fack Ju Göhte," by Bora Dagtekin. The title of the comedy is an intentional misspelling of "Fuck you, Goethe," mocking German students' random orthography. It's about a teacher, who isn't really a teacher, and his bored-to-death pupils. Despite the sludge, actor Elyas M'Barek's sex appeal conquered the hearts of countless teenie girls.
#8: Manitou's Shoe
"Manitou's Shoe" was one of the most successful films at the German box office since the 1960s, with more than 11 million tickets sold. Comedian Michael "Bully" Herbig, who originally worked for radio and television, received much praise - and laughter - for his parody of the schmaltzy, tear-jerking German Winnetou films.
#7: Go for Zucker
In 2004, director Dani Levy celebrated a huge and surprising success at the box office with his comedy "Go for Zucker." This movie about the financial and private problems of an unemployed sports reporter from former East Germany portrays Jewish identity in present-day Germany in a sensitive, yet humorous way - certainly not an easy task.
#6: Grave Decisions
In this film, released in Germany under the title "Wer früher stirbt, ist länger tot" (literally: The sooner you die, the longer you're dead), director Marcus H. Rosenmüller tells the story of an 11-year-old dealing with a revelation on how his mother died. The comedy plays with the particular charm and the peculiarities of Bavarians.
#5: Wir sind die Neuen
In 2014, director Ralf Westhoff turned an original idea into a fresh comedy on living as roommates. "Wir sind die Neuen" (We are the new ones) tells the story of three aging friends in Munich who used to share a flat in college and decide, years later, to live together again - amidst a much younger trio of students. This movie offers a humorous exploration of intergenerational relations.
In the 1980s, Vicco von Bülow, aka Loriot, was a highly popular television comedian in Germany. He delighted his fans of all ages by writing, directing and starring in "Ödipussi." Loriot landed on the big screen, although the film was not exactly a traditional comedy, but rather a series of sketches - and they were insane and hilarious, yet extremely subtle.
#3: Almanya: Welcome to Germany
In 2011, Yasemin Şamdereli was not the first to direct an intercultural comedy in Germany, but her movie was the first one to become so successful: "Almanya: Welcome to Germany"("Almanya" is the Arabic and Turkish word for Germany) tackles problems such as identity and integration in a funny, ironic and feel-good way, by laughing at the clichés surrounding both Germans and Turks.
#2: Look Who's Back
Is it possible and OK to laugh about Hitler? Novelist Timur Vermes and film director David Wnendt decided it was. The film adaptation, like Vermes' bestseller, approached the deadly serious topic of Nazism with humor. Wnendt built in documentary archives into the fictional scenes, adding quite a few dark - and controversial - jokes on the Nazi era and its leader, Adolf Hitler.
#1: Good Bye, Lenin!
Another topic of German history became a hit on the big screen: With his hilarious comedy "Good Bye, Lenin!" (2003), director Wolfgang Becker explored the fall of the Berlin Wall and the cultural differences between former East and West Germany. The film received several awards. It also made actor Daniel Brühl famous overnight. He still lives off that role - and maybe will forever.
Author: Jochen Kürten / ad
For the second edition in our series on our favorite German movies of all time, we're taking on the stereotype that Germans are a dour, humorless lot. We set out to prove that German humor exists by selecting our favorite funny films from German cinema history.
Among German movies, comedy is actually the most successful genre. The vast majority of local box office hits are home-grown laughers.
Sadly, many of them are untranslatable. Humor is often closely tied to language, turns of phrase, local culture, and even dialect: things that make nearly impossible to explain to an outsider. This is why comedy has a hard time crossing borders.
So, for our favorites list, we've picked 10 films with a universal brand of funny - comedy that you can understand even if you didn't major in German at college. But every one of them is unmistakably German in its tone, subject or style. These are comedies that couldn't have been made anywhere else and that find the funny in the ordinary lives, obsessions, fears and fascinations, of Germans today.
Unlike our best dramas list, our KINO comedy favorites are remarkably current. Two of the films on our Top 10 list are from the 1980s, but the majority is less than 10 years old. Maybe Germans are getting funnier? Or maybe comedy doesn't age as well as drama. What made us laugh 20 years ago often makes us groan today.
Another theme running through our comedy favorites is social commentary. Our favorite funny films take on society's shifting gender roles, the new generation gap, the struggles of multiculturalism, and the problems of German reunification. We even have a comedy about Adolf Hitler on the list. It's dark and disturbing but, we promise, also very, very, funny.
Take a look and tell us what you think by writing us at [email protected]
Maybe we can change your opinion on German humor.