Although it is a contemporary film in the German language, Messy
Christmas is sort of an Elizabethan-style comedy of errors. A loving wife
and mother invited her three ex-husbands to Christmas dinner, but did not
inform her current husband. Surprise! She then unveiled an even bigger
surprise: during Christmas dinner she announced that she was pregnant.
Only one little problem: the biggest surprise is on her. Her husband has
had a vasectomy that he never told her about because she really wanted a
baby and he was afraid of losing her.
The husband then spends most of the movie trying determine the real
father by interrogating and intimidating all the ex-husbands and any other
male who crosses his path, including Santa.
I know that sounds more like a hand-wringing,
staring-into-middle-distance Ingmar Bergman drama than a warm family
comedy, but it does have some funny moments. I mean what could be more
heart-warming and comical than tiny tots watching daddy beat Santa to a
bloody pulp on Christmas Eve? OK, it's not exactly filled with
side-splitting, laugh-a-minute antics, but there is a comedic spin to it.
By the time the wife made her announcement, the husband had already asked
one of the guests for advice about how to tell his wife the secret, so
there is comedy hinging upon who knows, who doesn't know, and the
significance of that knowledge. The rest of the comic premise, such as it
is, derives from the fact that the ex-husbands seem particularly unlikely
to have fathered the child, for various reasons apparent to everyone but
the putative cuckold.
Yup. Pretty freakin' zany, those Germans! They are possibly even
funnier than the Swedes, who had already been there, done that, and bought
the souvenir horned hat. Some eight years earlier, the Swedes made "Tomten
är far till alla barnen," which is the same movie. I haven't seen the
Swedish film, but based on the info available at IMDb, Messy Christmas
must be just about a word-for-word translation. The Germans didn't even
change the names of most of the characters, thus demonstrating the common
cultural heritage of all sauna- and sausage-oriented nations.
The German film industry today seems to be like the Spanish industry in
the late 80s and early 90s, when the same eight people seemed to be in
every movie. (Did they ever make a movie in Spain without Jorge Sanz in
that era?) Messy Christmas includes all the usual people: Martina Gedeck,
Meret Becker, Alexandra Neldel, Jasmin Tabatabai, etc. Martina Gedeck has
92 IMDb credits, and she's only in her mid-40s. Gerard Depardieu had
"only" 91 at her age. Meret Becker has 67 acting credits, and she's in her
30s. Depardieu had 62 at the same age. And Depardieu is required to appear
in every French movie, by dint of the French constitution! He now has 171
acting credits, and he just turned 60. Setting aside the inexhaustible
Depardieu and comparing those women to a typical North American star, we
find that Catherine Zeta-Jones is the same age as Becker and has only 29
There is one more quirky thing about German movies. They tend to be
like German beaches: filled with naked guys drinking beer, and just an
occasional flash of girly bits. This is a family-oriented Christmas movie
filled with adorable little tykes singing carols, and yet there is a
four-minute sequence filled with completely naked guys taking a sauna and
running outside in the snow stark naked.
In contrast, those who love female flesh get only a very brief flash of
butt from Jasmin Tabatabai