Successful German comedy about the weaker sex: men

"Männer" (Men) hit a few german cinemas in 1985 as just another independent movie by some obscure german female writer/director. At that time, nobody really went to see german productions although the audience eagerly lapped up British and American films, mainly due to the fact that German cinema still reeked of the heavy handed intellectualism of Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Volker Schloendorff that only attracted a marginal audience and inspired Mike Myers famous parody about german artists, Sprokets.

"Männer" was different: there was no association to WWII or the Nazis, the humour was poignant and in line with the zeitgeist and men were portrayed as what they really are: dorks. The story is simple: Julius (Heiner Lauterbach), a successful PR man, comes home early one night, just to find his wife sleeping with somebody else. Instead of turning macho, he follows the guy (Uwe Ochsenknecht) and finds out he's a down and out artist called Stefan, working in a chip shop and currently looking for a room mate for his dingy flat. Julius decides to befriend Stefan to see what makes him tick and to find out what his wife saw in him and moves into the flat. The two of them become friends quickly and Julius subverts Stefan slowly but surely into a capitalist caricature of himself by getting him a job as an art director in his own company. Soon Stefan wears Armani, works late and drives Porsche, just to get dumped by Julius's wife.

The film turned actors and director into superstars (well, at least in Germany) and after a slow start 6 million germans (then a tenth of the population) ventured to see it. Neither of the artists involved were ever able to repeat the success of this, although Lauterbach and Ochsenknecht are still pretty reputable actors.

One of the few german movies of the eighties enjoyable to watch (apart from Das Boot), this showed the german film industry that there's money to be made with contemporary, intelligent scripts devoid of doom and gloom.

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