Here’s an exclusive by request from a German Movie Club fan- the crazy, zany 80’s rock n’ roll comedy adventure, Panische Zeiten! English speakers beware- this film has no subtitles, but don’t let that deter you from enjoying this silly, but oddly satisfying flick.
German rock star Udo Lindenberg wrote, directed and starred in this madcap romp- an important fact to know, lest you erroneously assume, like I did, that the film was a Spinal Tap-like comedy and that its goofy-looking star who starts the film off in the middle of a wrestling match couldn’t possibly be an actual musician… but he is, basically playing himself: a hardcore party animal perpetually accompanied by a couple of random, beautiful groupies and a dangling cigarette that never seems to go out.
The plot, as far as I could tell, is that some shadowy, gangster-like group kidnaps our hero for ransom, but when his manager turns to the police for help, they think it’s a publicity stunt. This forces the team (which includes a big, fat wrestler and a little person) to hire a detective- one that happens to be played by Udo as well in a double role. It’s never really clear why Mr. Lindenberg needed to play both parts- the characters never seem to meet, it’s not like they’re long-lost twins, and near as I can tell, no one seems to notice the resemblance, and the fact that the detective also happens to play music (including a lovely duet with his beautiful, English-singing partner) doesn’t seem to arouse curiosity, either.
Regardless, the two roles pretty much guarantee Udo will be in every scene one way or another, and as the detective zeroes in on the case, Udo the rockstar escapes his captors by jumping out of a helicopter and landing on an island whose lighthouse happens to house a sophisticated basement full of hi-tech equipment. He seems to hit it off with the lighthouse keeper’s teenage daughter, and- if I got this right- they have some kind of political discussion standing in that high-tech basement about how to solve Germany’s problems, which inadvertently gets broadcast to the world- or, at least, to Germany.
Clearly, the German people are ready for Udo’s bold ideas, because next thing you know, he’s been elected prime minister, ready to change the world for the better- by way of a huge rock concert, which, of course, ends the film the same way it began. If that storyline doesn’t blow you away, I don’t know what could. Rock n’ roll really can save the world!
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