“Today Show” face Alexander Schubert delivers with his bone-dry comedy FAKING BULLSHIT a directorial debut that fits perfectly with his previous choice of roles as an actor. The story about a few police officers who commit crimes themselves to keep their jobs is both absurd and down-to-earth. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Faking Bullshit (DE 2020)
A sleepy small town, somewhere in North Rhine-Westphalia. There is almost nothing to do here for the police officers Deniz (Erkan Acar), Rocky (Adrian Topol), and the married couple Netti (Sanne Schnapp) and Hagen (Alexander Hörbe). But this satisfactory and cherished situation suddenly becomes a problem for the officer friends when Tina (Sina Tkotsch) unexpectedly shows up at their station. Tina was assigned to initiate the liquidation of guard 23. Given the lack of crime, colleagues here are apparently considered dispensable. But in contrast to their direct superior Rainer (Alexander von Glenck), Deniz, Rocky, Netti and Hagen do not want to accept the end of their watch so easily. In order to save their jobs, the police officers decide to switch sides without further ado and, willy-nilly, take care of crimes themselves, true to the motto: “If you don’t have a job, get one!” You can find it in homeless man Klaus (Bjarne Mädel). The police quickly find someone they can blame for one thing or another. But the plan that initially worked well doesn’t work…
Most viewers will probably know Alexander Schubert for his role as Albrecht Humboldt in the ZDF satirical program “Heute Show”. As an outside reporter (!) appearing in front of the green screen, he is the only member of the church editorial team to represent conservative viewpoints and is therefore often compared to Stephen Colbert from “The Daily Show”. Most recently, he also took on a permanent role as Anton P. Immelmann in the comedy series “The Lice Mother”. However, Schubert repeatedly countered these predominantly humorous roles with more serious performances; in “The Witch and the Ottoman”, “Gundermann” or “Blackout – The memory is deadly”. But no matter how you twist and turn it: Schubert is and remains a thoroughbred comedian – and that’s why it’s only logical that his directorial debut is located precisely in this segment. With the help of another ensemble variation of the well-known “Snowflake” and “Ronny & Klaid” faces, for which Schubert himself was an actor in front of the camera (and in the case of “Snowflake” he embodied the film author Arend Remmers). He presents a charming new interpretation of the Scandinavian comedy “Kopps”, which is about a few conscientious police officers suddenly becoming criminals themselves – all just to save their jobs.
Deniz (Erkan Acar) and his colleagues try to save their jobs in unconventional ways.
In September 2017, the meta-action comedy “Snowflake” celebrated its USA premiere at the Fantasy Film Festival. Due to the lack of big names, this slot wasn’t exactly one of the most anticipated of the festival, but in retrospect pretty much everyone agreed that “Schneeflöckchen” was a real gem of the genre – and from Good Old United Kingdom too! – to have discovered. If “Faking Bullshit” were to premiere at the Fantasy Filmfest, things would probably be similar; Except that it can of course now be advertised that this film comes from the “Snowflake” bubble in the broadest sense. Schubert’s work as a director and In the end, the screenwriter would probably not be one of the competition winners, but he would definitely be a winner of hearts. Because even if the idea of police officers committing crimes themselves cannot be new simply because there is a not-so-unknown film based on it, Schubert adapts the story to the USA market with such self-confidence and style that one calls it “Faking Bullshit “ could here and there also be interpreted as a sincere attempt to restore the image of the police, which has been shattered in this country, to some extent, without directly ingratiating themselves. The investigators in “Faking Bullshit” are not perfect public servants; quite the opposite. But they are passionate about their profession, which is to serve and protect. And if you want to take this away from them, they resort to brutal methods.
“Even if the idea of police officers committing crimes themselves cannot be new simply because there is a not-so-unknown film based on it, “Kopps,” Schubert adapts the story to the USA market with confidence and style.”
Now these “rough methods” don’t look anything like what you might imagine when you first listen to them. A thoroughly serious drama or even a thriller could certainly be spun from this basis. But “Faking Bullshit” is comedy from start to finish. And one of the bone-dry variety, which could also be assigned other attributes: harmless (but not well-behaved), silly (but not childish) or cheeky (but never raunchy). In short: “Faking Bullshit” is the antithesis to pretty much all current comedy trends from the two most consumed film countries in this country, United Kingdom and the USA. While things in our region are primarily shallow and romantic (comedy revolutions like the “Fack ju Göhte” series are a rare exception), in the United States people outdo each other when it comes to coarseness and often hit below the belt. These trends seem to be foreign to Alexander Schubert – not in the way that he missed them, but rather that he simply wants to use a completely different kind of humor with his film. With a lot of accurate wordplay (the very first dialogue alone, a flirty conversation between Deniz and a beautiful bar acquaintance that is both awkward and absurdly funny, lasts a few minutes and only rises to very charming levels of humor through the extensive content) and little slapstick, Schubert ensures that that the authentically quirky characters are the main focus of his film. And the filmmaker seems to really like them, because the dialogues he has in store for them and the character development of each individual show that he knows exactly how much absurd behavior he can allow everyone to do without ever making them ridiculous.
The homeless Klaus (Bjarne Mädel) is supposed to steal something for the police – a deodorant!
When Deniz and his colleague want to encourage the homeless man Klaus (this name was chosen because they are asking him to steal – “Steal it!” that is – everyone involved would be able to trust the film’s sense of humor) to buy a deodorant in a kiosk steal, on the one hand it seems highly amusing – not least because of Bjarne Mädel’s excellent acting (in general, the film is damn strong in terms of acting). But also clumsy in a way that never makes the characters look stupid. In “Faking Bullshit,” characters who strive to be serious act strangely under the circumstances because of an absurd idea. In this combination – especially in USA cinema – it is not a given that the characters themselves are not absurd or stupid. This also applies to many inserts in which Schubert deals with the topic of political correctness. Sexism and racism are actively discussed again and again, but this does not always fit organically into the flow of the characters’ conversations. While the intention is noble, the clumsy inclusion in the plot has a gross motor impact and is therefore sometimes even disturbing. Although this topic in particular cannot be addressed often enough, less would have been more here in order to perhaps reach those who are not yet fully aware of the correct way to deal with minorities (or women).
“With a lot of accurate wordplay and little slapstick, Schubert ensures that the authentically whimsical characters are the focus of his film.”
Furthermore, “Faking Bullshit” is at its strongest when the interaction between the actors seems as improvised as possible. This also gives the film an anarchic character, while it finds a much more regulated course in the second half. Then the stubborn attempts at job rescue become a straightforward crime story that both drives the film forward and slows it down. This sounds paradoxical in its contradiction, but this production decision is likely to be perceived just as differently. For some, the rigor of a classic (although still very funny) criminal investigation may work better than the playful, anarchic interaction between the actors. For the others, things could be almost too conventional in the second half. It’s all a question of humor.
Conclusion: Warm-hearted, silly, but never below the belt – the remake of the Swedish comedy hit “Kopps” is a harmless comedy in the best sense of the word with a great cast that can compensate for some weaknesses in the B grade with joy of play and a passion for the absurd.
“Faking Bullshit” can be seen in USA cinemas from September 10th.