Timm Thaler oder das verkaufte Lachen
Duration: 102 Menit
Release Date: 2 February 2017
The young Timm Thaler lives in the 1920s with his father in a small alley of a German city. Even when he grows up in poor circumstances, he is happy, and he has a laugh that nobody can resist. This is so contagious and disarming that Baron Lefuet, the fierce Baron, wants to have it.
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"Timm Thaler oder Das Verkaufte Lachen" is a German movie from this year that actually premiered exactly a week ago. It is in the German language and was directed by Andreas Dresen, one of Germany's most successful filmmakers right now, maybe the number 1 director currently from the former GDR. Tne script is by Alexander Adolph, one of Germany's most successful writers when it comes to small screen scripts, even if occasionally he also worked on theatrical releases. Of course, this one here is adapted from the work by James Krüss, the man who came up with the original Timm Thaler. First thing people may think of when they hear Timm Thlaer is probably Tommy Ohrner who starred in 1979 in the mini-series about this character. Ohrner makes a cameo in this film here as well as an employee of an expensive hotel in two scenes. And still, he is nowhere near the biggest names working on this one. If you look at the cast, you will find a long list of really successful German actors like von Dohnányi, Prahl, Hübner, Kühnert, Uhl, Mädel, Peschel, Haberlandt, Schmidt (Andreas), Król etc. I personally was quite well-entertained by the couple scenes including German late night legend Harald Schmidt who plays an announcer at the horse races. The child actor who plays the title character is Arved Friese and while I was never truly impressed with him, I think he works the part pretty well. I also liked Emil von Schönfels who made it truly easy to hate the character with all his actions and comments. The female actor with the most screen time is Jule Hermann and she is on par with Friese overall. I think the cast overall did a pretty good job. There is solid drama, some decent emotion, but surprisingly little comedy. I wrote in my title that kids should see this one and I think it is true. However, if you want them to see a new kids comedy, this is not it. This has nothing to do with the likes of Bibi & Tina or animated films in terms of the comedy factor really, but there is a lot of depth and drama instead here, maybe already too much for its own good. Dresen's attempts at making this a really relevant film are very visible, this was intended to be much more than 1.5 hours of pointless fun. The most obvious example is probably when the devil starts to talk critically of society about how the rich exploit the poor with one example of how Africans are robbed by white men of their natural reserves. The title already says that this is the story of a boy who loses his smile and the reward for him is that he wins every bet he makes afterward. As we find out later, this was intended by the main antagonist, so that Timm would lose a part of his soul bit by bit. This was also one of the weaker plot points of the film i must say. The way Timm transforms into the devil more and more came pretty much out of nowhere and would have needed better build-up. Now I said already that the devil is the main antagonist. On the one hand, it was fine because we never really know who the bad guys are. The stepmother with her son, the two thieves or JvD's character. Early on, it is a bit questionable. On a negative note, honestly if he was really the devil, the root of all evil, then why would he rely on such idiots as his henchman seriously. And why at the very end would he lose all of his appearance only because he lost his ability to smile again. This is again where it really is a kids film as it did not make entirely sense on these occasions. But it does on most others and that's why I enjoyed it. The emotional highlight comes very surprisingly already early in the film when we find out about the death of Timm's dad. I know Timm dealt with this properly when he got the grave stone finally and closed this chapter somehow, but I kept wondering why he did not wish for his father to actually be alive again. Or he could have said something like he bets that only 2 of his next 3 bets would be won and then the curse would be lifted too. Anyway, enough flaw-searching now because otherwise it may sound as if this was a film I did not like as much as I actually did. Another pretty great scene was when we hear Król tell us what the two kids actually wanted to say but did not and this rang very true in this particular situation. All in all, certainly one of the better German kids films and maybe even Germany's finest from 2017 for younger audiences. I certainly recommend checking it out. On a final note, i would like to add that this review comes from somebody who has neither read the book nor seen the Ohrner series (or another adaptation) of this pretty well-known literary work.