Opening 29 Nov 2007
Writing credits: Rochus Hahn, Allan Pease, Barbara Pease, Alexander Stever
Principal actors: Benno Fürmann, Jessica Schwarz, Matthias Matschke, Annika Kuhl, Uwe Ochsenknecht
How does one turn a non-fiction, pop psychology book into a film with a storyline and characters? Based on the book Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps by Allan and Barbara Pease, which picks up where Men Are from Mars… leaves off, this cute, “battle-of-the-sexes” film is built around a scenario which is developed into a plot in order to have a story to tell. The Pease’s thesis is that the differences between men and women are the inevitable consequence of our biology and date back to our time as cavemen. Director Leander Haußmann takes this as a starting-off point, opening with a narrator explaining a stereotypical representation of caveman chasing cavewoman. He uses the narrator and the cavepeople as a recurring theme throughout the film, putting forth one pseudo-scientific hypothesis after another.
To illustrate these points, the viewer is brought to the present, where we are introduced to Jan (Benno Fürmann), a successful professional, and Katrin (Jessica Schwarz), also a successful career-woman, whose poor parking skills leave traces not only on Jan’s sportscar, but also on his heart …. er … libido. The ups and downs of their ensuing relationship, the miscommunications and failed expectations are played out in one predictable scenario after another. For example, Jan refuses to consult his GPS or ask for directions when he gets lost on the way to an appointment, and Katrin admits to a friend that she has faked orgasms, complete with demonstration, proving the point that the differences between men and women haven’t changed much since the Stone Age despite centuries of our species’ so-called evolution.
The cast of German actors is obviously having fun playing their caricature parts, and Uwe Ochsenknecht is deliciously funny as the famous author and emotionally sensitive ladies’ man, Jonathan Armbruster. The film has a certain retro feel (think Love, American Style, if you can remember back that far) and deals largely in generalizations and stereotypes. Nonetheless, if you can put up with unending clichés about men and women as well as a somewhat sophomoric humor, you will likely enjoy this tongue-in-cheek romp in German. (Erica Fox Zabusky)