What distinguishes great actors from really great actors is quite simple: some are satisfied with Hamlet – and others also dare to do Hotzenplotz.
Gert Fröbe once did it. He was the Ur-Hotzenplotz in the cinema, and even if his Bond villain is in the foreground in terms of film history, “Goldfinger” 1964 was just a predatory finger exercise for his Hotzenplotz from 1974. Ultimately, such a Bond villain is nothing more than a variation the classic robber character from the Punch and Judy show.
Hotzenroach Peter Kern and Armin Rohde followed. They too, of course, at the highest level. But past them and at least to the place next to Gert Fröbe is now moving Nicholas Ofczarek with its interpretation of 2022, so that at least something good can still be gained from this damned year.
Olli Dittrich seems to have waited all his life to play Sergeant Dimpfelmoser
Of course, he too steals his grandmother’s coffee grinder, and there are entanglements with the state (sergeant Dimpfelmoser) and metaphysics (magician Petrosilius Zwackelmann). And Kasperl and Seppel also play their usual role in restoring the old order. The plot of Hotzenplotz, like that of Hamlet, is rarely varied. But with a new version like this, it doesn’t really matter that much What on than on that As.
Ofczarek plays the role with a crooked charm that God only gives to native Viennese. He omits the dialect – luckily, that’s not possible either, think, oh horror, of the Swabian dialect of the first TV hotspot of the Augsburger Puppenkiste – but the humor comes through anyway. On the other hand, Ofczarek sounds a bit like Klaus Lemke, God bless him, in his best moments of monologue in his best Hotzenplotz moments.
The Swiss director Michael Krummenacher and his German screenwriter Matthias Pacht have made a few gentle modernization measures to the template. For example, at the beginning Kasperl and Seppel build a rocket, which of course Otfried Preussler didn’t have. They also weave some elements from the two following books into the story of the first Hotzenplotz volume, on which the film is mainly based. For example, that the dachshund Wasti is transformed into a crocodile by the widow Schlotterbeck, which, as every fan knows, only happens in the second part. These adjustments and compressions make them all very subtle and in the spirit of the template.
The filmmakers are also lucky enough to be able to rely on excellent actors beyond Nicholas Ofczarek. It starts with the two child actors from Kasperl and Seppel, Hans Marquardt and Benedikt Jenke, who do it really wonderfully. And it continues with the adults, above all Olli Dittrich, who gives the feeling that he has waited his whole life to finally be allowed to play Sergeant Dimpfelmoser. It’s a match!
It is also fortunate that the robber Hotzenplotz never smoked cigarettes, which probably should have been deleted for a remake, but that he indulges in snuff. He stayed in it, probably also because the danger of imitation among young viewers should be limited. So Hotzenplotz sniffs vigorously, even agreeing to a devilish deal just for the snuff in order to get hold of a particularly delicious brand. Finally, we learn that this very snuff could solve our fossil fuel problem once and for all.
The robber Hotzenplotz, Germany/Switzerland 2022 – Director: Michael Krummenacher. Book: Matthias Pacht, based on the template by Otfried Preussler. With: Nicholas Ofczarek, Olli Dittrich, Christiane Paul, Luna Wedler, Hans Marquardt, Benedict Jenke. Studio Canal, 106 minutes. Theatrical release: 8.12.22.