Oh well, it’s been some time since a movie was reviewed on this website, and as Halloween wasn’t covered, this might be the perfect opportunity to watch some Christmas spirit movies. So grab yourself some mulled wine or eggnog… because you’ll really need it for this series of German movies.
Once upon a time, there was an idea in German television people’s heads that they could try to build a franchise out of a talking dog named Willy Wuff (spoken by Tommy Piper, the German dub voice of ALF) who would help poor people during the festive season to overcome their (family) problems. This is how it was put into execution with rather poor production values and even worse acting and storytelling. It’s also telling that this was never translated into any other language… thank God… or not.
Christmas with Willy Woof
(Germany 1994, director: Maria Theresia Wagner, original title: Weihnachten mit Willy Wuff)
One boy, his dad with two women, and a talking dog with an attitude try to piece together what’s left of Christmas.
It’s Christmas time, even though it’s not really snowing, but a dysfunctional family goes into the Alps. So it’ll probably snow anyway sometime in the near future, although tears of joy or (more likely) tears of frustration and disappointment will roll down people’s faces on screen or in front of the television set. The family consists of a father who’s torn between two women: his wife who’d rather like money after the divorce than fixing or saving the relationship, and his girlfriend whose cooking is as bad and low as her IQ. And there’s the son who in reality should not only be rather angry with his father’s behavior (instead of still trusting in a men-only family) but who should also be a bit dazed and confused about the whole situation which, let’s be honest, is more than a tad tasteless: being on vacation with two women and pretending to have a merry little Christmas? Come on…
Of course this terrible plot alone would be enough to switch off the TV (or throw it out of the window), but fortunately enough, there’s still the main (anti-)hero who comes in the unlikely form of Willy Wuff, a dog with no manners who accidentally picks up some puppies which are left behind in a car park (and apparently have no other reason than being cute and saying “Mommy” all the time)… and is even more miraculously transported to the same region via a tourist bus where the not-family is situated as well. So far so bad, but what the horrible plot and annoying human characters destroy in the sense of Christmas spirit… Willy Wuff doesn’t really save, either.
One hears his thoughts and only the disillusioned, sad boy can talk to him. But what makes this rather enjoyable is that there isn’t a scene with the dog in which he DOESN’T use sarcastic remarks or simply insult anyone he sees or meets (the boy included). For a family movie, the choice of words is surprisingly vulgar. In one scene, Willy actually calls another dog “a bow-legged asshole”. No kidding, Willy Wuff doesn’t take any prisoners when it comes to being a complete jerk. Not bad for a movie which is aimed at 6+ year olds and is disguised as a sappy mix of clichés.
And that’s about it. We have a horrible plot, annoying characters, overacting… and a dog who doesn’t do much more than curse throughout the whole running time. But strangely, despite all these flaws and a rolling-eyes-and-shoot-in-the-head rushed sappy ending, this movie is still enjoyable… if you have enough to drink and see it more as a trash-y Christmas movie and the sad attempt of Germans to do the heartwarming jolly season justice.
Score: 5/10 (2 for the human side, 7 for the dog side)
Christmas with Willy Woof II – A Mama for Lizzie
(Germany 1995, director: Maria Theresia Wagner, original title: Weihnachten mit Willy Wuff II – Eine Mama für Lieschen)
Little Lizzie leaves her ophanage home in search of a mother and finds herself in the company of the dog who can hear her sad stories, and ends up in a castle with crazy family and money affairs.
The plot already reads like the best (or worse) case scenario for a sentimental Christmas movie romp, and it’s even worse than one can ever imagine. It’s not enough that the acting skills of the little girl are atrociously bad and that there are again questionable love triangle ideas, but what’s even worse are Willy Wuff’s repeated lines of lame insults. The movie suffers tremendously from the lack of some in-your-face meanness by the badmouthing dog. It seems as if it’s a completely different one, the old Willy put to sleep by censorship. But the way the adults behave and talk to each other isn’t very Christmas-y at all and adds to the frustration to watch through the mess of a story.
Needless to say, the script is just as bad, if not worse than the first one, with horrible dialogue, stupid slapstick scenes and acting that isn’t really acting but a travesty of German drama. At least there’s more snow here and the castle background gives the whole thing a nice touch of winter dreaminess. But with some fake model scenes of the building, it’s rather comical, and not in a good way. What this would have needed was the dog of the first one, kicking everyone out of the castle with insults… including annoying little Lieschen.
Christmas with Willy Woof 3
(Germany 1997, director: Maria Theresia Wagner, original title: Weihnachten mit Willy Wuff 3)
Mother and daughter are kicked out by their landlord and find themselves in another castle where no princess lives, but a millionaire who still hasn’t found his soul mate and who disguises himself as a burglar in order to find out if the new woman in his life is rather interested in winning his heart than stealing his money.
With a production time of two years instead of one, expectations should have been a bit higher (despite the already low quality of the series), but by simply adding the number 3 to the original title and (even worse) including the same actress who played Lieschen in the second one, all alarm bells should be raised and fingers ready on the “switch off” button of the remote control. Because this is it. The ultimate nightmare for German TV and sentimental Christmas kitsch movie haters.
It’s not enough that the Lieschen actress hasn’t improved her acting skills, but Willy seems to have forgotten almost all of his bad manners, and these are needed in order to survive a plot full of logic holes, dripping with bad dialogue scenes and even more annoying characters than in the last two flicks put together. Except for some unintentionally funny scenes (with the worst snowman making in the history of Christmas movies and a monk whose false teeth make him look more like Quasimodo being completely out of place in a family flick) and a rabbit with the name of Ludwig Löffel (Louis Spoon) and some funny insults and remarks, this boring excuse for an evening spent in front of the TV should be completely ignored or only consumed with lots of alcohol.
To sum it up with the words of Willy who repeatedly reminds one of the whole situation the characters are in: “It’s the abyss”. The last (thank God) movie of the Willy Wuff themed Christmas flicks is an abysmally bad and boring experience all the way through and sadly shows that German TV or filmmaking is the worst in the world when it comes to Christmas movies. If there was a “how not to do” instruction video for Christmas-themed flicks, this is the perfect way of ruining one’s career in the business if one tries it anyway. One can also ruin one’s eyes and brain, being exposed to it too long. And if you don’t want to have an accident happen to someone dear to you watching this tripe, make sure sharp objects are put away, as this one could lead to some serious and uncomfortable poke-your-eyes-and-ears-out scenes.
Score: 1/10 (for Ludwig Löffel, the badmouthing rabbit who should get his own franchise with no censorship…during Easter probably)
Pain comes in threes if you let it…
If you’re ready for some serious marathon pain in the eyes and ears, why not order the whole trilogy and save some money? It also seems that this is the only way to get this series on Amazon UK. Why it’s not available in the US is beyond me. Probably because of some laws against it…
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Using one of the Amazon links and buying the products also helps ;).