Ines (Sandra Huller), a terse, corporate type is busy trying to conduct international relations involving big dollars when her dad Winfried (Peter Simonischek) shows up with a goofy wig and fake teeth as Toni Erdmann, corporate coach.
He throws a wrench in the works with his prankster ways, and Ines must learn to lighten up or reject the dad. The results, while a little predictable (and long winded) are fairly interesting thanks mainly to Huller, who anchors the sometimes silly film with a true sense of realism.
Her performance is top notch, and makes the film worth seeing. She also spends a good chunk of the film’s final act—which takes a major turn for the satiric—naked, which is pretty daring.
Simonischek is fun in the dad role, although his antics are sometimes a little too outrageous to buy in what is basically a serious movie about father-daughter relationships and coping in a cold business world.
Director Maren Ade might choose to use a little more restraint with future films (this movie would work fine at two hours and didn’t need nearly three to tell it’s story). While I’m not convinced any daughter would allow her father to mess with her at work in this fashion and is anything near realistic, it is a movie where make believe things happen, and a nicely enjoyable one at that.
This is Germany’s current Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.