Opening 10 Jul 2014
Neele Leana Vollmar
Writing credits: Andreas Bradler, Klaus Döring, Christian Lerch, Andreas Steinhöfel
Principal actors: David Kross, Karoline Herfurth, Ronald Zehrfeld, Anke Engelke, Katharina Thalbach
Rico (Anton Petzold) is a self-proclaimed “deeply-gifted child.“ Not highly gifted, you see, but “deeply.” He made up the word himself, because words sometimes just fall out of his head or get mixed up. Some people actually think he might be slightly disabled, but Rico is self-confident enough to call himself what he is. He can’t navigate the busy streets of his home in Berlin-Kreuzberg too well, so he’s come up with some tricks like tying a scarf on a lamppost and recording remarks into a tape player to help himself get by. Rico’s a latchkey kid whose mom (Karoline Herfurth) is a nightclub worker with a heart of gold. She’s not around much -- but boy, when she is, she smothers him with affection. Rico occupies himself with various bits of detective work, such as discovering which of his quirky neighbors might have lost a rigatoni noodle on the street. One day while he’s out detecting, he bumps into an annoying little kid with a big helmet and an attitude to match. This is Oskar (Juri Winkler), a self-proclaimed “highly-gifted child,“ who bugs lots of people with his incessant know-it-all chatter. Oskar is also mostly alone since his dad doesn’t care about him, and the two misfit kids become friends.
But a little bit of evil lurks in the streets of Kreuzberg (not too much; the movie’s approved for all audiences). A bad guy dubbed “Mister 2000“ has been abducting some of the many unattended children roaming the neighborhood. He’s known as the “bargain kidnapper “since he only asks for 2000 Euros in exchange for a kid. Left alone at night, with Mister 2000 all over the news, Rico is afraid of the “deeper shadows“ moving inside an abandoned apartment across the way. He enlists Oskar, with his mighty brain, to help him find the kidnapper. But when Oskar himself goes missing, Rico puts his own deeply gifted brain to work to find him.
Rico, Oskar und die Tieferschatten is based on the popular youth novel by Andreas Steinhöfel, for which he won the “German Youth Literature Prize.” This is a charming movie that will please the book’s many admirers. It has just enough action and silliness for the kids, and over-the-top characters and ridiculous situations that will amuse their grownups. It’s for all you fifth-graders and fifth-graders at heart. (Brenda Benthien)