Isi & Ossi
Director: Oliver Kienle
Writer: Oliver Kienle
Cast: Lisa Vicari, Dennis Mojen, Ernst Stötzner, Walid Al-Atiyat, Zoe Straub, Hans-Jochen Wagner, Christina Hecke, Lisa Hagmeister, André Eisermann
Seen on: 5.9.2021
Content Note: ableism, classism, racism
Isi (Lisa Vicari) grew up very rich indeed and her parents (Hans-Jochen Wagner, Christina Hecke) have a very clear idea of where she should go next once she finally gets through school – a bit of a struggle for Isi: getting a finance degree and then going into the family business. But Isi has other ideas: she would love nothing more than become a cook and is looking to go to a prestigious culinary arts class in New York. But she needs money for that, and her parents are unwilling to give it. When she meets Ossi (Dennis Mojen) by chance, she thinks she may have found a way to force her parents’ hands. Because Ossi is everything she is not: he grew up rough and poor. Most importantly, he is in need of money to secure a fight that could finally get his boxing career going. So the two strike a deal: Isi will give Ossi the money he needs, while they pretend to date until Isi’s parents give in. Easier said than done, though.
I love fake dating stories, so I definitely wanted to check out Isi & Ossi, but unfortunately I was pretty disappointed with this iteration of that trope. I found much of the film offensive and I just didn’t buy it.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect a completely realistic setting or story. It doesn’t need to be realistic, but it needs to be believable, and almost nothing about Isi & Ossi was. Both of their families were entirely clichéd, and not even those clichés made sense (I just don’t believe that a rich family wouldn’t allow their daughter to attend a prestigous, expensive culinary arts school for a year after school, if only as a sort of “gap year”. Nor do I believe that Ossi’s family could afford owning a gas station).
Isi and Ossi themselves were less clichéd, fortunately (though not entirely without clichés in their characterization), but I didn’t feel much chemistry between them, either. Maybe because I was busy with rolling my eyes at the many exaggerations that were meant to be comical, I know, but just didn’t struck me as particularly funny.
Much like the many, many ableist jokes. It was pretty much unbearable. The cursword of choice in the film is “spastic”, up to and including a character who is named “Spasti” (André Eisermann). A frequent joke is that when “Spasti” talks, nobody understands him (because of his dialect). But that isn’t all. When Isi starts working in a fast food restaurant, her co-workers are all shown as practically mentally disabled (with the strong insinuation being that if you aren’t disabled, you would be good enough to not work in a place like this, which is already icky enough). That “disability” includes not being able to feel pain which puts us right in Nazi territory (“it’s fine to experiment on disabled people, they can’t feel pain”).
The final death blow for me was Ossi’s grandfather (Ernst Stötzner) whose racism is treated as a “that’s just how he is, he doesn’t mean anything by it” joke. I really don’t think it’s funny, though, especially considering that the only PoC in the film is Ossi’s best friend Tschünni (Walid Al-Atiyat) who is both a racist stereotype himself and serves to give the grandfather his blessing, a ploy to give the (imagined) white audience the permission to laugh at the racism. That’s not a permission I want, thank you very much.
In short, Isi & Ossi reminded me of why I so often steer clear of German movies, especially comedies. And I can only recommend that you steer clear of it yourself.
Summarizing: Just no.