LOOK WHO’S BACK (2015, Germany)

by Miguel E. Rodriguez

Director: David Wnendt
Cast: Oliver Masucci, Fabian Busch, Christoph Maria Herbst
My Rating: 10/10
Rotten Tomatometer: No score [never released in the U.S.]

PLOT: Without a single word of explanation, Adolf Hitler materializes in modern-day Berlin and, thanks to an unscrupulous TV station, begins to once again take the world by storm.

In the comedy documentary The Aristocrats, scores of comedians tell different versions of the same hilariously dirty joke.  In one scene, the staff of the parody website The Onion gets together in a room and tries to construct the perfect Aristocrats joke by combining every known shocking and taboo subject into their version.  Nothing is off the table: religion, politics, graphic sexual acts, nothing.  We never hear their version of the joke, but their discussion is hilarious by itself.  Look Who’s Talking, a shocking comedy from Germany, feels like someone took all the notes from that meeting, pulled out all the Hitler material, and put it all in this one movie.

…this has happened to me before.  I started a review of this movie earlier this week and abandoned it after I realized I had written over 1,500 words of mostly summaries of the action and plot.

I think the reason is because the plot and the comedy in Look Who’s Back are so outrageous and shocking that I felt I HAD to give context to my reactions.  And the only way to do that was to summarize this scene and that scene and the next.

I simply am unable to put my feelings about this movie into words, at least none that would do justice to this stunning, effective, supremely disturbing satire.

The story: For reasons that are never explained, Adolf Hitler materializes in modern-day Berlin…well, Berlin in October, 2014.  After some initial confusion, he marches to the Brandenburg Gate and tries to get some answers from the crowds of people regarding his situation.  No one will answer his questions…but a bunch of people take a second for a quick selfie with this crackpot in a Hitler costume.

At first, Hitler concerns himself with short-term goals.  After befriending a newsstand vendor, he is informed that he smells.  He needs to get his uniform laundered.  And if you don’t think the sight of Adolf Hitler trying to communicate with a laundromat clerk, who doesn’t speak German very well, about when he can pick up his dry cleaning is hysterical, this movie may not be for you.

The story expands.  A TV producer on the skids at work discovers Hitler at the newsstand and convinces his bosses to allow him to take Hitler on a road trip across Germany.  (They’re convinced because a short video of him railing against German politics has gotten a TON of views on social media.)  Then he lands a spot on a live TV show, and things REALLY start to snowball.  He writes a book.  The book is optioned for a movie.  And so on.

I assure you, this is just the bare bones of the story.  I haven’t even gotten into the innumerable scenes that made me laugh like a hyena on acid.  But I can’t describe those scenes in detail, because I don’t want to get banned from the internet.

Here is a list of the scenes that struck me as the funniest or the most disturbing.  Usually both at the same time.

  • The dog.
  • The discussion about rap music.
  • The “hand puppet.”
  • Hitler drawing sketches (badly) in a public square to earn some money.
  • The TV host in blackface.
  • The scene at the soccer stadium.
  • When Hitler visits a pro-Nazi demonstration.
  • When Hitler compares the TV network manager to Leni Reifenstahl

…and on and on and on.

The true horror/comedy of the movie comes when you realize that, for the VAST majority of scenes where Hitler interacts with people on the street, those are real people having real reactions, not actors. The things that come out of the mouths of some of these people is beyond belief. One guy tells Hitler point blank that he had the right idea about concentration camps. A shop vendor says he had the right ideas about how to run the country economically, and she’d support him if he ran for office. All on camera.

There are other genuine laughs, to be sure. The sequence where Hitler discovers the internet for the first time is worth the rental/streaming fee. But by the time the movie is over, I was left with a distinct feeling of unease. The movie depicted the sinister way in which someone with extreme views can manipulate popular opinion and catapult themselves into a position of power. And it’s not so hard to imagine what it must have been like in the 1930s when Hitler did it all the first time.

The film closes with Hitler being driven down a public street in a convertible, saluting random people as they go by. Most people are shocked. A lot of them flip Hitler the bird. But there are some who give the Nazi salute as he drives by. Are they joking?

This is one of the most effective, provocative satires ever made, and it was never released in the U.S. due to the controversial nature of some of its funniest scenes. If you can stream this somewhere, you won’t regret it. Then ask yourself: could it happen this easily today? This movie provides its own answer. Compare and discuss.

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