Ines (Sandra Huller), a terse, corporate type, is busy trying to conduct international relations involving big dollars when her dad, Winfried (Peter Simonischek), shows up with a goofy wig and fake teeth as Toni Erdmann, corporate coach. He throws a wrench in the works with his prankster ways, and Ines must learn to lighten up—or reject her dad.
The results of Toni Erdmann, while a little predictable (and long-winded), are fairly interesting, thanks mainly to Huller, who anchors the sometimes-silly film with a true sense of realism. Her performance is top-notch, and makes the film worth seeing. She also spends a good chunk of the film’s final act—which takes a major satirical turn—naked, which is pretty daring.
Simonischek is fun in the dad role, although his antics are sometimes a little too outrageous to buy in what is basically a serious movie about father-daughter relationships and coping in a cold business world. Director Maren Ade might choose to use a little more restraint with future films. For starters, this movie would work fine at two hours; it didn’t need nearly three to tell its story.
While I’m not convinced any daughter would allow her father to mess with her at work in this fashion, this is a movie where make-believe things happen—and it’s enjoyable.
It was recently announced that the film, made in Germany, will get an American remake starring Kristen Wiig and Jack Nicholson, who will reportedly come out of retirement to play the dad role.
Toni Erdmann is now playing at the Camelot Theatres (2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs; 760-325-6565) and the Palm Desert 10 Cinemas (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-340-0033).