Opening 10 Sep 2015
Small-time gangster Zeki Müller (Elyas M’Barek) is still a teacher on a short-term contract at Goethe Gesamtschule (high school), although he is less than enthusiastic about the job requirements, as well as his undisciplined students in grade 10b. He lives with a colleague, Lisi Schnabelstedt (Karoline Herfurth), and her younger sister Laura, who is also in his class. Now that he has retrieved the diamonds that he stole, he hopes to be financially able to quit this job. Not so. The diamonds are suddenly on their way to Thailand. Luckily, there is a possible class trip to Thailand to visit a school that already enjoys patronage from the fancy Schiller Gymnasium. Goethe’s Headmistress Gudrun Gerster (Katja Riemann) is determined to win out against Schiller Gymnasium in the public eye. Thus, Müller leaves with seven students: Chantal, Danger, Zeynep, Burak, Laura, Etienne, and Meike, on a class trip to Thailand.
The truth is: anything a critic has to say about the film will fall on deaf ears. The original was so unexpectedly successful when it opened November 7, 2013, that this new sequel was inevitable and, within one week it, too, has topped German sales records. Director and script writer Bora Dagtekin is infinitely talented, and I must admit that I found Fack Ju Göhte 2 entertaining. It was filmed in Munich and Berlin, as well as six weeks in Thailand: Bangkok, the coastal town of Krabi, as well as two caves in Ka Rot and Phra Nang, the later in Ko Phi Phi National Park. The teenagers are insolent, but loveable. There is reference to ping pong balls, a disabled student (this is an inclusion school), marijuana, lost children from the 2004 tsunami, and much more. There are several morals to the story, which could even point young people into a positive direction, re: parental relationships, compassion, support, etc. The sound track features more than 20 familiar pop songs such as “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen.
In my three o’clock showing in Hamburg, there were 45 ticket holders, none over 18 years old, and two thirds were girls. In an evening showing the same day, there were twice as many viewers, possibly 20 older than teenagers, but still two-thirds were female. I interviewed six young girls at the afternoon showing – all of them wearing some kind of Muslim hijab and speaking excellent German. They all agreed that everyone must see the film, although I wonder if their parents really knew where they were on that afternoon. The title, believe it or not, is in English (figure it out), but you need more than superficial German to untangle the plot, spoken in teenager slang. We can expect Part III, no doubt about it, but will the kids still be in the tenth grade? (Becky Tan)