Kichern in der deutschen?
November 15, 2010 1:22 PM   Subscribe

For his birthday, my dad wants DVDs of German films/TV series. But they can't be grim or weird. German comedies are the safest bet. Do those exist?

My dad is trying to get his German speaking and comprehension skills into better shape. He took a few years of it in college and my mom is a native speaker. He's been reading a bunch, but wants to start watching German films or TV shows (without the subtitles, obviously).

Since my mom is there to help, I'm free to choose films that would otherwise have dialogue that's too sophisticated for a novice at the language. However, when it comes to the plot, my parents are rather weirdness- and bleakness-averse. Their threshold for either of those qualities is quite low. Thus, they don't want anything experimental or anything that is centrally concerned with WWII or the GDR (although I think Goodbye Lenin! would be okay). Comedies would be great. Like, I'm talking about the German-language equivalent of Frasier, rather than Heart of Glass.

So: classic or contemporary German comedies? Dramas that don't center on the Holocaust or the Stasi? Any ideas? Thanks.
posted by Beardman to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Michael Mittermeier is hilarious. He packs stadiums with his comedy shows. Also take a look at TV Total which is a sort of Conan o Brian style show i think.

We usually watch scrubs and two and a half men in german here but i guess that doesnt help! haha. Ill come back when i remember more.
posted by freddymetz at 1:27 PM on November 15, 2010

Also, Keinohrhasen is really funny and cute. Theres also a sequel out which i havent got round to watching yet.
Sommersturm was pretty good too.
posted by freddymetz at 1:32 PM on November 15, 2010

Maybe too weird for them, but Monty Python produced two episodes in German, which should be available without subtitles on a DVD collection of theirs. (There are sub-titled versions on Youtube.)
posted by not_on_display at 1:45 PM on November 15, 2010

Lola (Run Lola Run!) perhaps.
posted by rongorongo at 1:51 PM on November 15, 2010

TVTropes has rarely steered me wrong. I've heard good things about Stromberg.
posted by nicebookrack at 1:54 PM on November 15, 2010

My dad loathes any weird, boring or arthousey films. Doubly so if they're in a foreign language. He normally manages 40 minutes of films he likes before he has a nap.

He was pretty rapt by The Lives Of Others. It is bleak and not funny. I'm still recommending it because it is a fantastic film.

Because so much of the film involves bugging and transcription I would think it's also reasonably good for someone improving their comprehension skills.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:59 PM on November 15, 2010

I quite enjoyed Türkisch für Anfänger.
posted by snownoid at 2:10 PM on November 15, 2010

Goodbye Lenin is a lovely, quite touching comedy about a young man whose mother wakes up from her pre-unified-Germany coma, and the families efforts to convince her that the wall is still up.
posted by smoke at 2:11 PM on November 15, 2010

I'd recommend Im Juli by Fatih Akin.
posted by null14 at 2:23 PM on November 15, 2010

I love Heisser Summer (Hot Summer). It's a really charming East German beach-musical. I can't remember if that edition has genuine DVD subtitles (so you can turn them off) or if they're in the image because of the way they mastered it.

Im Juli is a well done road trip comedy movie.

Bella Martha (Mostly Martha) is a good romantic comedy that the (not really as good) American "No Reservations" was a remake of.

If you can find them, most movies by Doris Dörrie are worth watching. But they're hard to find in America. (Moves like "Männer... " and "Keiner liebt mich".) "Keiner liebt micht" might be a bit too strange though.

I've always enjoyed "Tatort" ("Crime Scene") when I can watch some episodes, used to be on MHz Networks. A well done police drama with effective bits of humor.
posted by skynxnex at 2:28 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

You've got to get Ein Herz und eine Seele. Best German comedy ever. Besides that I can suggest the following classics (not all of them are really funny):
Loriot, Klimbim, Man spricht Deutsch, Piefke Saga, Texas - Doc Snyder hält die Welt in Atem, Die Lümmel von der ersten Bank.

You might also want to check out the Wikipedia list of German language comedians
and the Wikipedia entry on German television comedy.
posted by jfricke at 2:30 PM on November 15, 2010

For your formulaic, Austrian dialect, canine police procedural needs, go directly to Kommisar Rex.

(mmm, wurstsemmel.)
posted by zamboni at 2:33 PM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding jfricke, I can recommend Loriot. Safe, simple humor about German manners and customs. Hugely popular, and a bit dated at this point. Stromberg is indeed hilarious in the fashion of The Office, so a bit hipster. Also, the humor is sardonic and perhaps lost on a learner.

It's an American film (well, Billy Wilder directed, so really exile German in American film, but whatever), but little known here and hugely and enduringly popular in Germany: Eins, Zwei, Drei. Incredibly funny, slapsticky humor that works its charms on nearly everyone. Just get a copy with the German soundtrack.

One practical question: do your parents have a DVD player capable of playing Region 2 DVDs? If not, be sure you are buying a region 1 encoded DVD.
posted by dalea at 2:46 PM on November 15, 2010

Pretty much anything Hape Kerkeling is in.

Der Schuh des Manitu (first German movie I ever saw in a movie theater. It's a little slapstick-y but fun.
(T)raumschiff Surprise is along the same lines except in space instead of a "Western".
Der Bewegte Mann is good comedy
The first two aren't exactly good movies in the same way that Im Juli (mentioned by other people above) is, but they're dorky/funny.

On the subject of Moritz Bleibtreu (one of the protagonists of Im Juli) I like most of his movies, though you might want to be careful with Das Experiment since it's a little bleak/based on the Stanford Prison Experiment. Der Krieger und die Kaiserin (the Warrior and the Princess) is better, but you might want read the synopsis on wikipedia.

For some reason I haven't seen it yet, but Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire) is often recommended as a good drama.

Sommersturm is one of my favorite contemporary non-heavy German films. It's basically a gay teen movie, so YMMV.
posted by polexa at 2:57 PM on November 15, 2010

Even with my limited German, I find Bullyparade extremely funny. Seconding Stromberg too.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 3:06 PM on November 15, 2010

I've looked for this kind of thing myself, and probably the best example I can think of is the sitcom series Mein Leben & Ich, which is loosely based on the ABC series My So-Called Life. I'm not sure if your dad would be interested in a series about teenagers, but there it is. The complete series is available on DVD.

Movie-wise, Germany produces its share of straightforward stuff. For example, Hände weg von Mississippi is a 2007 movie about a precocious little girl and a horse. That may or may not be your dad's thing, but what we might call family-friendly movies with broad appeal are definitely out there. It's just not usually the stuff that gets translated and distributed overseas.
posted by jedicus at 3:46 PM on November 15, 2010

I'm seconding polexa's recommendations. Took a German cinema course in college (in German), almost all of those movies were on the list.

Traumschiff Surprise is absolutely hysterical.
posted by Dukat at 4:28 PM on November 15, 2010

And while not comedy, Tatort is a pretty intriguing crime show.
posted by Dukat at 4:29 PM on November 15, 2010

If you think he might like Goodbye Lenin, then try Sonnenallee - it's a quirky, nostalgically funny story about first love and growing up shenanigans on the other side of the Berlin Wall in the 70s. I really loved this movie.

If you want silly, try Müller's Büro, a P.I. parody / musical / dorky movie. The music is actually quite catchy! I heard one song 20 years ago and I'm still humming it.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:10 AM on November 16, 2010

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