About a decade ago I was asked by a good friend why I never volunteered to be a Big Brother to children. I replied that it was too big a risk. One bad egg could make a false allegation and ruin my reputation for the rest of my life. The good that could be accomplished wasn’t worth that risk. She scoffed, but later acknowledged the truth in what I said. That’s what this movie is about.
Mads Mikkelsen is a good, caring man whose life is put into a tailspin when one of the young kindergarten girls in his care, the daughter of his best friends Thomas Bo Larsen and Anne Louise Hassing, makes a false allegation to the school principal, Susse Wold.
Highlighted by incredible acting by Mikkelsson (it earned him a Best Acting Award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival), what is unforgettable about this movie is the acting of the young girl who makes the allegation, Annika Wedderkopp. It’s stunning that someone so young could give such a sensitive, emotional performance.
Ably directed by Thomas Vinterberg (who also co-wrote a terrific script with Tobias Lindholm), this is not an easy movie to watch, but it is thought-provoking and worthwhile, a modern day equivalent of the Salem Witch Hunt. Once the allegation is made you can’t tear yourself away from what is unfolding on the screen.
In Danish and English.
I’ve been at this for quite a while. You don’t write as many critiques of films as I have without picking up a few tricks. One of mine is the ability to wipe every vestige of an Adam Sandler movie from my memory after I have finished writing about it.
Since I like to see films de novo without knowing much about them going in, I had forgotten that I had seen the first of these films, Grown-Ups (2010), and that it had starred Sandler (along with Chris Rock, Kevin James, and David Spade) and been directed by Dennis Dugan. So when the opening scene is one of Sandler’s face in bed with his wife, my heart went down to my toes, realizing that I was stuck for more than an hour and a half seeing this unfunny Saturday Night Live alum trying to be funny yet again.
The opening scene continued and confirmed my dire anticipation, about a deer who has invaded Sandler’s bedroom. But if I thought that this was as ridiculous as the movie could get, I was sadly mistaken. The movie plunged downhill from there.
What I wrote about the first is even more appropriate to this one, so I will repeat it here.
This film is a complete and utter waste of time… Let’s face it, none of these guys are actors; they are standup comedians. It takes talent to create onscreen chemistry, and that’s a level of talent that is beyond their ken.
Amen, brother. With the same cast, this film is worse than just being not funny. It is offensive, crude, vulgar, and appeals to the lowest level of taste and refinement. It is replete with disgusting puerile urination and scatological gags which appear in most of Sandler’s and Dugan’s films, leading one to wonder if they will ever reach the age of reason and start thinking like adults. The children in the film use the same gutter language as the adults, and I guess that’s supposed to be funny. Not.
Added to the cast is Shaquille O’Neal, a former basketball player. O’Neill was a horrible free-throw shooter, but he was better at the free-throw line than he is before the camera. That said, O’Neill gives the best performance in this movie, which gives you a taste for how bad everything really is.
Worse than all I’ve said above is the script. The characters are so simplistically ridiculous that they don’t even rise to the level of caricature; the scenes, story, and incidents are ludicrous. It’s not surprising that Sandler is a cowriter (with Fred Wolf and Tim Herlihy), but it’s a sad commentary that three people couldn’t come up with something better, and on a higher intellectual plane, than this.
As for Dugan, he seems to be intentionally creating a list of the worst movies ever made, adding this to You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008) and I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007).
The MPAA, in its Hollywood wisdom has given this a PG-13 rating. So all the bad language, deplorable incidents, and low moral tone apparently are less destructive to children than seeing a woman’s nipple, which generally ensures an R rating. Go figure.