Thursday, 31 May 2012



Is it just British insularity, ignorance and arrogance, or do the Germans really have no sense of humour? Do we really want to know, or would that shatter our national illusions? My uninformed guess is that they do (for one, Henning Wehn does stand-up and regularly appears on Radio 4 panel games) even if it isn't quite the same as ours. Wikipedia lists 51 German comedy television series, including sketch shows and sitcoms, which is more than they give for other renowned comedy nations like Greece, Mexico or Poland. Filmwise, though, we don't think of Germany as a comedy nation - even before sound necessitated subtitles, did they have any silent screen clowns?

Released by Salvation, Drop Out (original title Nippelsuse Schlägt Zurück) is a peculiar and not entirely unsuccessful stab at a sleazy German comedy sex thriller: it's not funny enough that you actually laugh, but it is funny enough that you acknowledge you should. A woman walks out on her deadbeat boyfriend in frustration, almost inadvertently sets herself up as a private investigator, and is immediately plunged into a convoluted mystery involving drugs, orgies, blackmail, murder and corruption in (literally and metaphorically) high places. Can she actually sort out the conspiracy, or has she been employed merely as someone to pin the crimes on?

The comedic tone - and I'm fairly sure that our heroine running through the streets naked save for a bouncing strapon is supposed to be comedic, and the presence of a urine-drinking gag suggests that childish toilet humour knows no national borders - is all the more unusual given its heritage: it's co-directed by Wolfgang Büld, auteur of a trio of mesmerisingly sleazy British cheapies (LoveSick/Sick Love, Twisted Sisters and Penetration Angst), and its star Beatrice Manowski - perhaps better known as Beatrice M and the female lead of Jorg Buttgereit's legendary Nekromantik, one of the most depressing and confrontational movies ever made. Drop Out is much lighter than any of those movies as Manowski's a personable enough lead, but it's not particularly well shot (it has a cheap camcorder look about it, and not just in the "found" sequences in which Manowski relates the plot to a video camera) and much of the music just seems to be techno thumpy club stuff.

There's also too much casual drug use for my personal preference - boringly, I've never been a user and I never will, and the heroine's "when in doubt, get stoned" moments annoyed me perhaps more than they should. It's not a film I much liked: it's ramshackle and cheap and it's not great from a technical standpoint (and I'm not sure what ratio the DVD is supposed to be watched in as none of my widescreen TV's settings looked entirely right), but it's occasionally amusing. Funnier than Christiane F, anyway.


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