Review: Mees Kees in the clouds (2019)

Mees Kees in the clouds (2019)

Directed by: Martijn Smits | 72 minutes | family | Actors: Leendert de Ridder, Sanne Wallis de Vries, Raymonde de Kuyper, Jochen Otten, Ellie de Lange, Imme Gerritsen, Tijn Hoetmeer, Abel Nienhuis, Elisa Beuger, Badr Boubric, Tygo Desmet, Sam Ghilane, Devyne Hoffstaetter, Mauro Semprevivo, Kiara Usman, Lilo Van den Bosch, Sem Van der Horst, Saphira Van der Kolk, Mila van Groeningen, Tyshara Van Samson, Lively van Sweden, Liz Vergeer

With the children’s book ‘Mees Kees – a spicy class’, writer Mirjam Oldenhave started an unprecedented success. The adventures of substitute teacher Meester Kees and his students appeal to children in the upper classes of primary school, because they are very recognizable to them. And with the somewhat bumbling and clumsy Mees Kees there is also a lot to laugh about. The success of the book series was first translated to the silver screen in 2012; the youth film ‘Mees Kees’, starring Willem Voogd, attracted no fewer than 600,000 visitors. The films that followed – ‘Mees Kees op kamp’ from 2013 and ‘Mees Kees op de planks’ from 2014 – also did well at the box office. After the third film in the series, protagonist Willem Voogd thought it was enough. Not only did he want to play a different role himself, he also thought that the children his students played had become too old by now. With an almost entirely new cast, ‘Mees Kees along the line’ was recorded in 2016, followed by a TV series in 2017. Leendert de Ridder (‘Sterke Stories’, 2010) took over from Voogd. He can also be seen in ‘Mees Kees in de Wolken’ (2019), but the children’s cast has been replaced again. You could say that the only constant factors in the casting in eight years are Mees Kees Sanne Wallis de Vries (as the remarkable headmaster Dreus) and Raymonde de Kuyper (as Mees Kees’ mother).

This fifth Mees Kees film was also penned by screenwriter Tijs van Marle, who is therefore very important in the consistency and recognizability in tone and style of the story. Incidentally, that story does not go too deep here: Mees Kees (Leendert de Ridder) has a birthday. He got a balloon flight from his girlfriend Marie-Louise (Ellie de Lange). A fantastic gift of course, but not for Mees Kees. He has a fear of heights, but does not dare to tell Marie-Louise honestly. Dreus is now working on a big party at school. The school has been around for fifty years and that should of course be celebrated. Dreus hopes to get all the children dancing, but Mees Kees’s students are not exactly thrilled about that. They are insecure about their dancing skills. Tobias (Imme Gerritsen) swoons at the thought of dancing with the beautiful Hasna (Mila van Groeningen) at the party. But asking her, he finds it terrifying! And so he is in the same boat as Mees Kees, who does not dare to tell his beloved something honestly. Tobias’ best friend Sep (Tijn Hoetmer) is particularly interested in what Dreus is up to in the classroom that she fearfully tries to keep closed to the outside world.

The adventures of Mees Kees and his students are not exactly earth-shattering; it’s just those mundane, everyday events that we all have to deal with from time to time. It’s all far from exciting, although director Martijn Smits, known from ‘Zombibi’ (2012) and ‘Superjuffie’ (2018) – not coincidentally, both written by Tijs van Marle – tries to add a bit of spice here and there. with sound effects. But urgent is different. Certainly because the constant postponement of ‘the high word’ that both Mees Kees and Tobias do, does not lead to a ultimately satisfying climax. And so the film ripples and chatters on. ‘Mees Kees in de Clouds’ has to rely on the characters, who are wafer-thin, but certainly not unsympathetic; we wish them all the best. A little more content is an essential part of that, by the way. Not that there are no leads on which the film could build; take Tobias’ late father for example. Also in this film it is pointed out that the boy is still in the middle of the grieving process, a fact that could have been worked out much more deeply than what we see here. ‘Mees Kees’ keeps it light and airy and thus imagines himself to be everyone’s friend, who radiates a carefree superficiality that will take its revenge after a while. Because what have we actually seen that stays with us…?

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