Buba is Guy Ritchie-inspired German comedy that is hard to enjoy, and the story will leave you in the dark if you watched the original series.
This review of the Netflix film Buba does not contain spoilers.
The German Netflix comedy Buba wants to be a Guy Ritchie comedy that is not easy on the eyes, nor does it go down smooth. It’s a hard film to swallow because none of the characters are likable. In fact, this film’s protagonist, Jakob (Bjarne Mädel), who I could have sworn was being played by David Arquette, is disturbing, often disgusting, and offers downright daft behaviors. Though, Mädel adds a sweet, endearing quality. He is the loveable loser who develops coping skills to feel anything meaningful. The pain is a dangerous variety. We aren’t talking about a paper cut here. The grave is often a bone-crunching type. When it all comes down to it, you care about Buba, but the film in total is the equivalent of a Seinfeld episode where characters act ridiculous, but nothing ever happens.
The story follows the trying times of Jakob Otto. He, as a child, lost his parents in a car accident and secretly opted for a break-dancing competition headlined by Leonardo Dicaprio. (As the film states, “Google it,” because it is very real). This is where he had his first kiss. His brother Dante (Freud’s Georg Fridrich) survives the crash but now, even as an adult, suffers from foreign accent syndrome (FAS) and sounds like he grew up in the United States. He has grown up as a vile, pompous mess with a rat tail and purple highlights. They run a con game in their local town akin to Jimmy McGill. Dante has his brother smashed by cars intentionally, and the driver will give them any cash they have on them to avoid the police and their insurance premiums being raised.
Why does Jakob take the hits? Because he is used to pain. Every time he felt something good as a child, he would take a hammer to one of his fingers, to his cold, cruel, and domineering grandmother’s delight. This has developed a coping fetish where he feels joy through pain. He even becomes a stunt man at a local German Western show. He is set on fire daily and leaps from a balcony. There, he meets Jule (Anita Vulesica), the girl who gave him his first kiss.
Jule owns a local tattoo parlor in town and gets tats all over his body, including in places with the flimsiest skin, so that he can feel the most pain. We are talking elbows, between his fingers and toes, even inside his bottom front lip. Donte has them audition for the local Albanian mob for even more punishment. Once they get in, his crew is called the “fake Albanians. ” Soon, Jakob becomes the star of the group. His penchant for taking an insane amount of punishment for each score gains him everyone’s respect. Well, except his brother’s.
Directed by Arne Feldhusen, with a script that went through multiple hands, this is a prequel to How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast). Buba refers to an Albanian folktale, where a harmless animal is led astray by the demon Boller and then turns into a heartless monster, this is the nickname given to Jakob Otto (his name in the original series). Why? Because he has all the spine, it seems like The Cooler’s Bernie Lootz and the luck to boot.
Jakob is perfectly innocuous, a loser, and doesn’t strike fear into anybody. Except no matter how you hit him, he doesn’t stop moving towards you. Either by fist, shovel, or sedan, the fight will end with the Buba leaving you bruised and bloodied. Mädel and Vulesica do have sweet, comfortable chemistry together. It’s refreshing to see a romance between adults of a certain age and those without classical movie star looks.
While you may enjoy Mädel’s Buba, the remaining supporting cast is a hard sell. You will have difficulty enjoying anyone here as their behaviors make it hard to care about the character’s outcomes. The script has a clever opening sequence repeated twice, but the sequence is head-scratching. The writers are asking the audience to believe something was an accident. However, the scenes are not adequately explained or sold, where they could have easily been worked towards dark humor. The other problem is there is no discernable plot, and the script must be much funnier and create an atmosphere that builds connections to its cast of characters. That doesn’t happen here.
For all of Feldhusen’s Guy Ritchie gusto, it was hard to find anything that makes Mädel’s Buba worth your time watching. Still, I made excuses and waited for Buba’s lack of a story to meld with the script’s offbeat cohesion. It is the equivalent of an above-average dive bar. Yes, I have never watched the original series, but if this film requires viewing of the series to be enjoyable or offer explanations, the script isn’t doing its job. Unfortunately, there are too many flaws in Buba’s end product to provide a mild recommendation.
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