“Toni Erdmann” opens on Dec. 25 as a Christmas gift for critics, who have been raving about it since it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this past May. It merits a jaw-dropping 96 on MetaCritic and 93% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes, and it’s the frontrunner to win Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.
“The best 162-minute German comedy you’ll ever see” tells the story of eccentric dad Winfried (Peter Simonischek) who tries to bond with his workaholic daughter Ines (Sandra Huller) by visiting her in the disguise of the title character, a disheveled goof with a wig and false teeth. Wackiness ensues.
But it’s not just about laughs. It’s “a slow-burning thing of beauty, ultimately as moving as it is implausibly funny.” And it’s also “wise” in its depiction of a complex family dynamic: a father and daughter who seem to have nothing in common. It’s written and directed by Maren Ade, a “visionary” at a time when cinema “lacks female directors of every stripe.”
Check out some of the film’s reviews below, and discuss this and more in our movie forums.
Melissa Anderson (Village Voice): “Delving into microeconomics and macroaggressions, ‘Toni Erdmann,’ the dynamite, superbly acted third feature from writer-director Maren Ade, is social studies at its finest. This quicksilver, emotionally astute comedy operates on many different registers and moods: Whoopee cushions and gag teeth are part of the fun, but so is a piquant dissection of father-daughter bonds and of the sinister banality of corporate consultancy.”
Justin Chang (Los Angeles Times): “Were this simply the story of a no-nonsense career woman and her screw-loose dad overcoming their estrangement through a broad style of performative therapy, it might have furnished a snappy assembly-line crowd-pleaser, with every laugh, tear and epiphany planted to erupt on cue. But ‘Toni Erdmann’ is weirder, messier and vastly more intricate than that.”
Leslie Felperin (Hollywood Reporter): “The best 162-minute German comedy you’ll ever see … Even the fact that it’s about likeable management consultants, deploys whoopee cushions and semen-covered petit fours as props, and features a scene where a character sings an easy-listening classic (surprisingly well) doesn’t stop it from being a slow-burning thing of beauty, ultimately as moving as it is implausibly funny.”
Jessica Kiang (The Playlist): “We lack female directors of every stripe, but what we really lack are female visionaries. This film, despite unshowy photography and a dialed-down style, is so singular, and so uniquely Ade’s that it heralds her confirmation as one such. Because on top of everything else, ‘Toni Erdmann’ is wise: a summary lesson in acceptance of your family members, not just for who they are, but for who they made you into.”
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