Toni Erdmann

I had to go to work in the morning.  I had a late lunch, and then I went out to see “Toni Erdmann.”  Peter Simonischek is Winfried, a man who has the time and money to act weird, particularly when it comes to dealing with his daughter Ines.  She leads a corporate life, which appears to be destroying her in his view.  Winfried goes into the bizarre persona of Toni Erdmann, which is reminiscent of Andy Kaufman showing up on the set of “Taxi” in disguise as Tony Clifton.  This movie runs two hours and forty-two minutes, and thus is an epic of weirdness, and it takes a long while to be anything.  I think that just about everyone could say that Maren Ade should have picked up the pace during the first hour.  The length does do something, though.  We feel that we’ve already spent so much time with these two so that it seems there is a real bond between them.  We see the cracks in Ines’ life, and we do eventually see that she has inherited some of the crazy tendencies of her father, sort of like Nastassja Kinski following the path of Klaus Kinski.  One rather nutty moment has Ines singing “The Greatest Love of All.”  She actually does a very good job of singing, too, and this day happened to be the anniversary of Whitney Houston’s performance of The Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl.  Her exit of the scene was like Elvis Costello on Saturday Night Live.  Maybe there was something in the lyrics about learning to love yourself that had to do with the theme of the movie.  The wackiness all leads up to the birthday party scene, which has bits of Luis Buñuel, and, I don’t know, perhaps Russ Meyer.  Winfried shows up, of course, and of course he is in costume, but it’s not the Toni Erdmann wig and fake teeth.  Those teeth look like they came out of that commercial for the people who can’t afford dental work and want that million dollar smile, those teeth that you put in warm water before you stick in your mouth.  I think that many people will feel that Ade makes you endure too much for the rewards you get from this movie, which again recalls the Andy Kaufman approach.  Maren Ade could have used more ideas, and a writing partner could have helped.  If you want to go out and see a movie that is different, though, this is it.  It’s not a lot of belly laughs from start to finish, but you’re going to see moments that you’re not going to forget anytime soon, somewhat along the lines of “Little Miss Sunshine.”  The movie was exhausting, and so I didn’t feel like going out grocery shopping.  I stopped at La Burrita to buy a carne asada burrito.  I watched the Partridge Family episode “Forgive Us Out Debts,” which had a store’s computer ruining Shirley’s credit rating.  Keith, Laurie, and Danny set sneak out to reprogram the computer, although I didn’t see Keith as the best one to work with the computer.  I couldn’t see how Keith could be playing catch outside the house and not notice the furniture being taken away.  The episode’s song was “Maybe Someday.”  I also caught the end of a Big Bang Theory episode showing Leonard, Howard, and Raj trying to catch the sight of a meteor shower.  I heard about the deaths of Mike Connors, John Hurt, and Barbara Hale.  Some of the people who died on January 29 include Robert Frost (1963), Alan Ladd (1964), Freddie Prinze (1977), Harold Russell (2002), and Janet Frame (2004).  Today is a birthday for Oprah Winfrey (63) and Tom Selleck (72).

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