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A strange animal: "Puberty" in the cinema

"You can't be too careful in choosing your parents." (Paul Watzlawick)

"When I was 14, my father was so ignorant. I could hardly stand the old man around me. But at 21 I was amazed at how much he had learned in seven years." (Mark Twain)

"The youth of today love luxury, have bad manners and despise authority. They contradict their parents, cross their legs and bully their teachers." (Socrates)

Much has been written about puberty. Serious and funny, profound and superficial. Three years ago, the journalist Jan Weiler had the idea to publish his columns on puberty, which he had previously written for various newspapers, as a little book. It hit like a bomb.

"And puberty sleeps forever" appears these days

The collection with its 22 columns stayed on the bestseller lists for weeks, followed by a sequel, and part three hit the German book market on July 3rd. No question about it, Jan Weiler hit the nerves of the audience. The subject of puberty concerns everyone, almost everyone: at least parents who have children of a certain age are well aware of the tiresome subject.

This is what the friendly puberty Carla (Harriet Herbig-Matten) looks like at the end of the film

The many readers were apparently happy that someone had put all of this on paper in an easy, relaxed and very funny literary way. You felt understood. Snotty teenagers who were suddenly no longer Mommy's favorite, untidy children's rooms, dirty laundry everywhere, defiant reactions at every imaginable moment - children's puberty is actually not funny.

"Puberty" developed therapeutic effects

But Jan Weiler managed to take the worries and needs of millions of parents seriously - and yet to write cheerfully about them. A recipe for success that also had a certain therapeutic effect: "Aha, other parents feel the same way, then our pubescent child and also our situation as a legal guardian is not that special", apparently many thought while reading.

It is hardly surprising that the literary recipe for success has now also become a film. Whether Hape Kerkeling, Charlotte Roche or Martin Suter, which is sold by the millions between book covers, often also works on the big screen. So now "Das Pubertier" is coming to the cinema, the world premiere is on July 4th. Some industry professionals are responsible for this.

Cinema professionals at work: "The puberty"

The successful theater and film director Leander Haußmann ("Sonnenalle", "Herr Lehmann", "Hotel Lux") took over the direction, while Günter Rohrbach acted as producer ("Das Boot", "Schtonk", "Die Andere Heimat"). Prominent mimes such as Jan-Josef Liefers and Heike Makatsch appeared in front of the cameras.

Reading to Help - How to Deal with Childhood Puberty Heike Makatsch and Jan Josef Liefers in "Das Pubertier"

Forming a feature film out of 22 columns is no easy task - and unfortunately the company has only partially succeeded. "In the film, the father is the real puberty," says Rohrbach, outlining the plot: "He cannot cope with the new situation and makes all sorts of mistakes."

The journalist Hannes Wenger (Liefers) takes a break from his job. He wants to accompany his child, the 14-year-old daughter Carla (Harriet Herbig-Matten) during the difficult period of puberty. This storyline is at the center of Haußmann's film: a father and the pubescent daughter in the daily clash over sovereignty of opinion, world interpretation and debate about the mundane things in life.

Braces, pimples and dirty laundry: puberty

There are some hilarious scenes in the film. Especially those in which the pubescent children can be seen. For example, when Carla meets up with the shy Edward of the same age (our cover picture) - and Haußmann and his actors stage a bizarre group of tooth-clad, mumbling and pimply teenagers and embarrassments. The film is completely by itself. And sometimes the film joke between father and daughter also works: When Hannes and Carla simply cannot agree on the right upbringing.

The problem with "Puberty", however, is that the film is a series of more or less funny scenes. The staging line, the dramaturgical thread is completely missing. You can't really empathize with the protagonists as a viewer, far too many sequences are confused and cluttered for that. "Das Pubertier" also suffers from a lack of depth. Because what is puberty? A joke? A fun time for kids and adults?

Jan Weiler: "The fear of losing the children"

Jan Weiler himself says: "In retrospect it (puberty) gets something fire-tongued, it's all about the beautiful and amusing things. But the truth is, puberty is a time in which you have tremendous grief, don't understand each other, but feels ugly and seeks his place in life. " And on the part of the adults, the parents ?: "It is the fear of losing our children."

The film hardly conveys that. Neither the torments of the children nor the hardships of the parents. Well, one could argue, "Puberty" wants to be a comedy, not to tackle the subject in such depth. But the movie isn't that funny - apart from a few exceptions. The jokes are often flat and stale, some storylines seem completely over-toed, "Das Pubertier" is sometimes reminiscent of German film clothes from the 1950s.

This is a pity. The subject deserved a good film. The public interest would definitely be there. This is proven by the books by Jan Weiler, who was involved in the screenplay of Haußmann's film.