I went straight from the cinema to Amazon Prime THE BOANDLKRAMER AND ETERNAL LOVE Two legends of USA mass entertainment meet: Michael ‘Bully’ Herbig and Hape Kerkeling. We will reveal in our review whether this meeting is brilliant.
OT: The Boandlkramer and eternal love (DE 2021)
For thousands of years, death – better known in certain latitudes as the Boandlkramer (Michael ‘Bully’ Herbig) – has ensured the transition of the deceased from this world to the afterlife. This has worked so far – almost! – consistently smooth. But now an obstacle stands in the way of the Boandlkramer that is even trickier than that stubborn Brandner Kaspar of old: the Boandlkramer falls madly in love with a woman named Gefi (Hannah Herzsprung). As if it wasn’t already hard enough for the Boandlkramer to win over his beloved, for obvious reasons, to make matters worse, a rival also appears. In his distress, he quickly seeks support from the devil (Hape Kerkeling). What the Boandlkramer should have suspected: Lucifer does not act selflessly, but demands a favor that could plunge the world into great disaster…
13 years have passed since “The Story of Brandner Kaspar” came to USA cinemas. “Comedian Harmonists” director Joseph Vilsmaier brought the popular Bavarian folk play about a gunsmith who outwits death beyond the borders of the Free State. Around 973,000 tickets were sold across United Kingdom – more tickets than for the comic actioner “Wanted” with James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie, “Iron Man” or Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd – The Devilish Barber from Fleet Street”. Not bad for a film whose original has a regionally limited reputation and also has a solid pinch of regiolect – the average USA audience usually only tolerates that in humorous thrillers. Nevertheless, 13 years ago there were also isolated, disappointed voices – some cinema connoisseurs expected higher numbers from a film with Michael ‘Bully’ Herbig in the second leading role. Just a year earlier, Herbig’s animated film “Lissi and the Wild Emperor” had 2.29 million ticket sales. In view of this, only a few outsiders thought of a sequel – and then after “Bullyparade – The Film” Herbig withdrew from humorous films in order to instead show himself as a suspense director (which was to bear fruit worth seeing with “Bullyparade”).
Michael Bully Herbig once again slips into the role of Boandlkramer – i.e. Death.
The surprise was even greater when Herbig not only advertised his renewed dubbing work as toy cowboy Woody during the press tour for “A Toy Story: Everything doesn’t listen to any command” in 2019, but also his return to the role of Boandlkramer. And it wasn’t just Herbig who caused astonishment, but also Hape Kerkeling, who had long since become media-shy, who was cast as the devil in “The Boandlkramer and Eternal Love” and thus had the prospect of one of his few in-front-of-camera performances since his semi-resignation presented. Filmed before the corona pandemic, but then postponed several times because of it, “The Boandlkramer and Eternal Love” ultimately ended up as an exclusive film on Amazon Prime, depriving us of the chance to find out whether part two would have received more response nationwide than the first fruit. The chances for the sequel were very good. Ultimately, Herbig’s Boandlkramer is promoted from the second leading role to the protagonist, Kerkeling has more traction across United Kingdom than Brandner-Kaspar actor Franz Xaver Kroetz, and the script for “The Boandlkramer and Eternal Love” is more general.
“Gone is the folk stage-like tragicomic of the original, instead a cinematic, heartfelt humor is used – which also pays tribute to some of Herbig’s idols, such as the Marx Brothers and ‘Dick & Doof’.”
Although “Boandlkramer and Eternal Love” also speaks with a Bavarian accent, there is only a sparse drift into dialect. The tonality is also different: the folk stage-like tragicomic of the original is gone, instead a cinematic, heartfelt humor is used – which also pays tribute to some of Herbig’s idols, such as the Marx Brothers and “Dick & Doof”. The detours into the afterlife and hell also resemble high-quality “Bullyparade” sketches – when the end credits of “The Boandlkramer and Eternal Love” explain that this film is based on an idea by Herbig, it is hardly surprising. Although it might disappoint those who liked the Bavarian flavor of the original. But perhaps this is exactly how the “Boandlkramer” films gain new fans. Kerkeling’s scenes in particular are very entertaining: Kerkeling plays the devil with an artificial showman attitude and a nasal arrogance that is reminiscent of Justus von Dohnányi’s Baron Lefuet in “Timm Thaler or The Laughter Sold”. But while von Dohnányi plays an anachronistic businessman, Kerkeling plays Beelzebub as a (no less anachronistic) Las Vegas entertainer in a shimmering white jacket, a quiff and a playroom that looks like something Mary Blair could have designed (art design of such Disney films like “Three Caballeros” and “Alice in Wonderland” as well as the Disney attraction “It’s a Small World”) designed a hobby room for her boss Walt: pastel-colored wall motifs show numerous musical instruments and other leisure objects, while in the middle of the room a shiny model train is interspersed with gold and silver ones and bronze, not-to-scale, childishly squishy, compressed models of iconic sights.
…and he falls in love with the mortal Gefi (Hannah Herzsprung).
But guest stars like Rick Kavanian also make an appearance outside of Kerkeling (of course, who also sings). (“Jim Knopf & Lukas the Engine Driver”) and Götz Otto (“Enfant terrible”) for lively moments, while Herbig plays a believably humane version of death: He has a friendly banter with a deceased fraudster before, annoyed but with a smile in his voice, he calls him a stupid pig and turns away. With his childlike naivety, he lets the devil trick him, but as soon as the penny drops, he makes a real effort to get everything straightened out – but is also noticeably depressed because it calls his own happiness in love into question. Unfortunately, in addition to the supernatural, strange characters and the pointedly, narrow-minded village community (which, shocked, thinks the generous death is a communist posing as a capitalist – because of course a conservative village senses danger from the left, even from the Grim Reaper!) there is little room for Hannah Heart jump (“Dream Women”): Her Gefi is drawn as patient and friendly, and that’s pretty much where it ends. There is a lack of nuance to fully appreciate her as a dramatic character, and at the same time she is not given enough humor material to keep up with her male colleagues when it comes to comedy. That’s unfortunate, after all it’s the presence of this character that sets the plot in motion – she should make more of an impression and have personality.
“Even apart from Kerkeling (of course also singing), guest stars like Rick Kavanian and Götz Otto provide lively moments, while Herbig plays a believably humane version of death.”
By the way, it is currently unclear whether the suggested third part will follow. Ultimately, those involved would have to decide on a successor to Vilsmaier, who died at the beginning of 2020. It would be understandable to want to base this film series on his shallow, lively late work, which does not deny its Bavarian roots and is still widely accessible. It thus knows how to arouse curiosity for white-blue stories of this kind in the north, west and east. But perhaps Herbig and Co. decide that Vilsmaier would like it if the Boandlkramer moved on tirelessly, chattering oddly and discovering new curiosities. Thanks to Vilsmaier’s work here, an audience will be found.
Conclusion: Less (white-)blue-hearted Free State comedy, more connection points for the rest of the Federal Republic: “The Boandlkramer and Eternal Love” is an entertaining sequel that continues its very Bavarian predecessor with a good-humored Kerkeling and a higher sense of humor.
“The Boandlkramer and Eternal Love” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.