Fack ju Göhte [yes, a deliberate misspelling of fuck you, Goethe]
Director: Bora Dagtekin
Writer: Bora Dagtekin
Cast: Elyas M’Barek, Karoline Herfurth, Katja Riemann, Jana Pallaske, Alwara Höfels, Jella Haase, Max von der Groeben, Anna Lena Klenke, Gizem Emre, Aram Arami, Runa Greiner, Valentina Pahde, Uschi Glas
Seen on: 20.11.2015
Zeki (Elyas M’Barek) was just released from prison and has only one thing in his mind: collecting his loot. His friend Charlie (Jana Pallaske) has hidden it in the ground, but when they get there, it turns out that a school has expanded and the treasure is now somewhere under the building. Zeki wants to apply as a janitor there, but is inadvertently hired as a teacher. To pass as long as it takes to get to his money, he uses the diligent teacher Lisi (Karoline Herfurth). But when he gets to teach the most difficult class in school, things start to change.
Fack Ju Göhte is not exactly a smart comedy, but it is fun to watch as long as you don’t think too much about any of it and ignore the sexism and classism.
I can imagine that Fack Ju Göhte is a special treat for teachers who have been frustrated in their work (and let’s face it, who isn’t frustrated every once in a while at least) and who have subsequently fantasized about ignoring their students or insulting them or shooting them with paintballs. All of which are things that Zeki does in the film – methods with which he is able to reach the most difficult class in the entire school and build a relationship with them, which in turn is necessary so that anybody could teach anyone anything. While the movie casually hints at the downside of institutional limitations that regulate teacher-student-relationships (every relationship is different and sometimes what is necessary is made impossible by the institutional setting), it doesn’t really concern itself with serious topics like that. (Just to be clear: Zeki certainly isn’t a pedagogical example to follow in most regards, even if he does have some success. He insults, hurts and humiliates just as much as he builds self-esteem and takes the kids seriously.)
And that is perfectly fine (although I would like to see a film that does explore that conflict more seriously). Instead Fack Ju Göhte offers laughs and most of them are very much entertaining. I just wish that it had taken more care with its female characters who all seem to fawn around Zeki’s coolness [and/or are strippers]. In fact, Lisi – the only one who pushes against that a little bit – is shown as prude and uptight and she can only become happy once she, too, accepts Zeki’s superior awesomeness. And while Elyas M’Barek is very charming (especially in the bloopers during the credits where he dissolves into laughter more often than not), Zeki is an asshole most of the time and I wouldn’t have minded if he hadn’t gotten off totally scot-free.
Fortunately there’s Chantal Ackermann (yes, that’s what they called her), one of Zeki’s students. In Jella Haase’s excellent portrayal of her, Chantal steals every scene she’s in: an obviously lower class girl obsessed with pink who seems to have no interestes than make-up and boys and no brain to speak of until Zeki tells her that a recent test revealed her as gifted (a lie), she becomes proof of the point that when you’re told that you can and will succeed, you are much more likely to. Plus, she’s just plain funny and not surprisingly one of the film’s (and its sequel’s) main attraction.
While the film really is far from issue-free – classist stereotypes, ableist slurs and sexism are regularly treated as the butt of jokes rather than problems – it does have enough charm and energy to keep you engaged throughout. If you don’t think too hard about the issues, the film will make you laugh.