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Go for Zucker! (Unrated)

Release Date: January 20th, 2006 (Landmark Sunshine Cinemas) by First Run Features.
The Cast: Henry Hübchen, Hannelore Elsner, Udo Samel, Golda Tencer, Steffen Groth, Anja Franke.
Directed by Dani Levy.
In German with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: After his mother dies, Jackie Zucker (Hübchen) must comply with the strict rules of her will and come up with 44,500 euros to pay his debts.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Go for Zucker! successfully balances Jewish comedy and drama. Most of the comedy is situational and slapstick while drama gets more serious as Jackie Zucker digs himself into a deeper and deeper hole. The set-up is clear from the start. First, he owes the government 44,500 euros or else they will take everything he owns. Then, when his mother dies, she leaves a mystery inheritance with as long as he follows her rules. The most difficult rules include following orthodox Jewish rules such as keeping kosher and sitting Shiva for a week with his brother Samuel (Samel), who he hasn’t spoken to for years. Both of them must make peace with one another in order to complete the final rule of their mother’s will. At the same time, Jackie secretly participates in a billiards tournament even behind his wife’s back. When Samuel arrives, comedic chaos ensues as Jackie continuously fakes heart-attacks to go off to the billiards tournaments—one of the “heart-attacks” makes him end up falling into his mother’s grave during the funeral. Samuel’s daughter (Uhlig) tries to woo Jackie’s son (Groth) even though he’s gay. Jackie and his wife Marlene (Elsner) try their best to seem like a normal husband and wife even though they’re just about to divorce. The fast pace does diminish some of the humor, but there are enough attempts to make you chuckle—especially when Samuel takes ecstasy. Originally meant to be a TV-movie in Germany, Go for Zucker still feels slightly contrived and far-fetched, but that’s precisely what makes it so much fun. On top of that, the terrific, energetic performances from the actor give it warmth and realism.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: The basic message is the value of family in one’s life. When the Berlin Wall separated Jackie and Samuel, they still haven’t spoken even when it fell. Sometimes, it takes a tragedy to come to terms with reality and learn a valuable lesson—even at a later stage in life. Samuel learns to be compassionate and forgiving. Although Jackie still has to work on his honesty, he does show his good heart in the heartwarming third act.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Contrived and far-fetched at times.


IN A NUTSHELL: A warm, funny, and smart comedy with wonderful performances!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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