Saturday, July 8, 2017

VODebut: From Germany, Peter Thorwarth's NOT MY DAY proves a funny, crazy delight

That the famous -- and still quite beautiful -- Columbia Pictures logo is the first image we see on-screen for the 2014 German box-office hit NOT MY DAY (Nicht mein tag) should indicate that we have a rather mainstream, Hollywood-inspired European movie on our hands.

Indeed we do, but it's one that's funnier, smarter, more and surprising and appealing than, say, any of those Hangover films. And while the movie is quite obvious about what it is and where it is going, how it gets there--ah!--that's what proves to be so much fun.

In fact, even before the halfway mark arrives, we've already reached the point that would be the finale of any self-respecting U.S. action/comedy/bromance (which this film most definitely is), during which our heroes -- one a criminal/bank robber, the other a nebbishy bank clerk -- have bonded, enjoyed some fun together and gone their separate ways, after a fulfilling, comedic, and now slightly sad bromance. And then the fun really begins.

As co-adapted (from the novel by Ralf Husmann) and directed with energy, verve and pacing good enough to take us through a nearly two-hour time frame (which is long for a comedy) by Peter Thorwarth (shown at right, and yes, his last name does sound like Star Wars with a Castilian accent), Not My Day builds beautifully from an opposites-attract/fish-out-of-water scenario into something a little bit deeper and more original. Nothing profound, mind you, but a good deal better than the crap we often get from Hollywood would-be comedies. Herr Thorwarth was one of the writers responsible for that smart and troubling students-turn-into-fascists film, The Wave, so it's good to see what else this young man has been up to of late.

Not My Day also boasts two terrifically-played performances from its well-chosen leading men: the ever-versatile and stops-out actor Moritz Bleibtreu (above) and a fellow new to TrustMovies but evidently very popular in Germany, Axel Stein (below).

While the wonderful Herr Bleibtreu initially seems to command the movie (as his character does Herr Stein's), once we arrive at the turning point mentioned above, Stein's character Till takes over, and the film grows ever wilder, funnier and crazier, while just managing to hang on to that iota of credibility movies like this one need to stay on track.

On the distaff side, we've got another pair of performers who fill their very different roles quite nicely, too: Jasmin Gerat (above) as Bleibtreu's main squeeze, the take-no-bullshit Nadine, and Anna Maria Mühe (below), as Till's more passively-aggressive partner, Miriam. Both our heroes, as it turns out, are somewhat pussy-whipped fellows.

How the two men bond, fuss and fight makes for a good deal of fun and frolic, and the changes that occur in both of them are are managed by Thorwarth and his co-adaptor Stefan Holtz with enough pizzazz and believability that we easily follow along.

While Bleibtreu does the expected first-class job, Stein gets the more showy role in which he evolves from milquetoast to nutcase and finally into something nicely calibrated between the two. In just about every way, Not My Day proves an example of European mainstream action/comedy/bromance. Yet it is such a good example of this particular genre mash-up that I can only wonder why it's taken so long for the movie to reach us.

The film is being distributed here in the USA by Under the Milky Way, is in German with English subtitles, and runs one hour and fifty-five minutes.

It opens on VOD nationwide this coming Tuesday, July 11 -- on all major platforms including iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Microsoft, Vudu, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Vimeo, and various other cable operators.

If you're looking for a divertissement that's glossy, fun, and a just a little different from your usual fare, Not My Day should very nicely fill the bill.

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