Did you ever watch a movie in which the main protagonist acted like a complete idiot for no apparent reason? If your answer is yes you must have watched a German comedy…
Sometimes I am really glad to be able to watch (major) Hollywood movies. Despite their lack of truly good stories lately they at least manage to create characters that are not complete idiots who would be better off dead. It is an accomplishment to be proud of. In comparison German screenwriter seem to lack everything of how to write a good character – at least in comedy movies.
Yesterday I watched a German comedy movie called HARDCOVER. It revolves around a writer of pulp crime stories who finally want to write something good and decides to investigate the real life of criminals – of course after being robbed by one of those guys. He decides to help him get out of jail by saying it is the wrong guy and then follows him on his daily life.
Well, the idea itself is not truly new, but it had potential. Yet, the characterization of the main protagonist for me ruined everything because he acted like a shy idiot, klutz, fool and worse you only meet once in a lifetime. Perhaps this was intended (“hey, it is more realistic”), perhaps it was a result of bad writing. In both cases the movie is a prime example of how you can destroy any emotional connection to a character.
To get a better understanding of “idiot”, simply imagine this scene: the idiot writer is about to “enter” the realm of the shady criminals for the first time in his life. And the thing he does beforehand is to turn on a small voice recorder. Of course this thing gets spotted and the protagonist is in deep shit.
Nice one, Mr. Writer.
Of course it is a great idea to portray a character as an idiot so you can create an emotional and intellectual arc. But come on. Be “realistic”. Even a moron knows to minimize all problems with criminals to a minimum. And this truly includes voice recorders.
Now, the best part is that the movie doesn’t stop here, yet even goes on. But I spare you the details because it would be cruel.
So, what do we learn? You can create a character that is a idiot. But write it that way that the audience doesn’t start to hate him for his obvious on-the-face-stupidity.
By the way: it seems that German movies get a really nice rating bonus in Germany because almost every critic seems to love this thing.
At least the title is really good. (Hey, this in itself is very much in Germany with its constant plague of stupid movie titles)