Here’s a German comedy stuffed with cutesy touches but little else, a madcap scamper from start to finish that still feels static and kind of staid, and a gorgeous character who’s meant to be funny, but who makes you wish our heroine would break a damn bottle over her head.
That’s “Berlin, Berlin: Lolle on the Run” in a nutshell — emphasis on the “shell.” It’s a madly misshapen farce that never amounts to much more than pleasant nonsense, and damned little of that.
Consider: We meet Lolle (Felicitas Woll) in court in her battered wedding dress. She just fled the altar where she was about to marry Hart (Matthias Klimsa), her lifelong friend and business partner in the animation studio they run, which they’re about to sell to Hollywood.
She fled because her ex, beach bum bartender Sven (Jan Sosniok) motorcycled up, confessed his love, and gave away the game by confessing that they’d had sex shortly before this wedding. Lolle flees, causes many traffic mishaps, and thus she’s in front of a judge in handcuffs.
Lolle narrates big chunks of her youth, with flashbacks unnecessarily bringing us up to date on how she got to the altar. She’s put career first, jumped from comic books to animation, has “babies” on the brain, and here we are.
In other words, the first five minutes of the movie is cluttered with a bunch of junk we don’t need to know. But in any event, we’re off.
Lolle’s “community service” is at a school, where this beautiful bullying custodian (Janina Uhse) proceeds to make her life hell — making her clean toilets, stealing her notebook P, with her animation studio’s pitch for being sold on it. Tracked to a bar, Dana then drugs Lolle, steals a car and gets them both arrested in the middle of nowhere.
They have to escape, stumble into a meth lab, have their clothes swiped by a cult of forest hippies, get back to Berlin, get Lolle’s notebook and maybe settle some of mean girl Dana’s “issues” as they do.
Dana’s like a dark, angry German version of that “too-much-fun/free-spirit” that comedies like this throw at us. Think “Something Wild” without the charm.
Lolle spends her time begging, questioning and trying to understand this hellish creature whom most of us would have cold-cocked the moment she literally spat in our face. But maybe that’s me.
The “cute touches” here are whimsical uses of split-screen action, as the meth lab mugs, the cult, the cops and Lolle’s two exes chase her and track her with the help of her blackmailing IT guy in India.
There’s a bear who eats a phone, and every so often Lolle imagines a person she encounters in animated form.
The animation is clever, if not hilarious. The running gag — that everywhere they go, they run into some OTHER ex of Lolle’s — also needed work.
The one scene that made me laugh involved the ladies’ pursuers colliding and collectively pounding on a gate, trying to get at them.
“Tear down this WALL! Tear down this WALL,” they chant, in German with English subtitles. Reaganesque.
And I grinned at the part of the Harz forest Lolle and Dana find themselves in — “Schnitznitz.” It may not be the best language for comedy, but German place names? Real beer-through-the-nose geography.
Funny. Unlike pretty much anything else in “Lolle on the Run.”
MPAA Rating: TV-MA, drinking, drug content
Cast: Felicitas Woll, Janina Uhse, Matthias Klimsa, Jan Sosniok
Credits: Directed by Franziska Meyer Price, script by David Safier. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:21