Toni Erdmann

Feb 25, 2017

It's Oscar nominated and it's funny.

Toni Erdmann

Grade: B

Director: Maren Ade (The Forest for the Trees)

Screenplay: Ade

Cast: Peter Simonischek (Oktober November), Sandra Huller (Requiem)

Rating: R

Runtime: 2 hr 42 min

by John DeSando

Toni Erdmann is one of the strangest, most absurd satires you will ever see. As a comedy, the reunion of grown daughter Ines (Sandra Huller) and her aging, eccentric father, Winifried (Peter Simonischek), is a send-up of the strained relationship between any child and an unusual parent. As a comedy, it is even more bizarre because that is a genre not usually associated with Germans.

Yet comic it is as father visits daughter at the important step in her career, and he is nothing short of embarrassing in his various disguises, popping into her professional life as a life coach and German ambassador, and more strikingly as a big, furry, Wooky. Although others don’t know it’s her dad, she is painfully aware of it, and curiously accepting his roles after a while.

Her acquiescence may in part be due to his ability to satirize the excesses of business people like giving out business cards at all times or network swapping.  The criticism is well placed as everyone is flawed in one way or another. The piece de resistance is Ines at the last moment being forced to have a naked party, to which most of them come in a kind of dazed, robotic state, all of the proceedings sexless and humorless.

Toni Erdmann deserves its Oscar nomination.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at