My Father is a Detective – The Mysterious Fortress Island (2009)
Directed by: Will Wissink | 85 minutes | adventure, family | Actors: Tjeerd Melchers, Jasmin Pasteuning, Rick Mackenbach, Cees Geel, Tygo Gernandt, Beau van Ervan Dorens, Ellen ten Damme, Bas Muijs, Rebecca Loos, Peer Mascini, Mike Lebanon
Sam’s father Max is a detective. Not necessarily a good one, but with Sam’s help and that of neighbor Sterre, he’ll come a long way. Yet Max manages to let themselves be kidnapped when Sam and Sterre aren’t paying attention. Together with Ortwin, the baron’s son – who is again Max’s client – Sam and Sterre go to a fortress island just off the Dutch coast.
The makers of ‘My father is a detective – The mysterious fortress island’ are married couple Will Wissink (director) and Zebi Damen (screenplay), who – highly commendable – made this film under their own management. No distributor that gasps down your neck and makes demands on your own creation, it has its advantages. The consequence of taking on such a large-scale project is that there are always things that someone else can do better: after all, you cannot be good at everything. As a result, ‘My Father is a Detective – The Mysterious Fortress Island’ is not only an original and above all exciting adventure, but also that the whole thing is quite variable. Brilliant scenes alternate scenes that are lousy to say the least. For example, some poorly executed CGI images with the macaw at the end no longer fall under the heading of ‘beauty mistakes’, but it is simply a matter of having made wrong choices. Why did that beast have to get out of the basket? There is also a misplaced scene somewhere with Bas Muijs and Camilla Siegertsz, in which the makers briefly lost sight of the target group.
The acting performances are decent, but the star is Tygo Gernandt, who can indulge in the role of creepy Benno. Of the three young actors, Jasmin Pasteuning is one to keep an eye on, but the two boys are also doing well. The actors are somewhat hindered by the uncomfortable texts that they have to squeeze, it is sometimes too obvious that the writer wanted to stop “popular” language in the film. The “dicks” and “bitch” are sometimes not from the air. The adult cast features a number of well-known Dutch people, of whom you may wonder why they were chosen to play these roles. Peter Faber as shopkeeper, Ellen ten Damme as Sam’s mother, Beau van Erven Dorens as the baron and Rebecca Loos as …uh… herself? … they are interchangeable figures and for the young target group it serves no purpose that these people are cast.
In ‘My father is a detective’ a number of serious subjects are discussed, which show that the makers regard the target group with full respect. These themes (divorce, alcoholism, jealousy and illegal trade) are not explored in depth, but that is not necessary in an adventure film like this one. The pace is nice and fast and the four main characters are sympathetic. Just like with ‘The Seven of Daran’, where the success of the film could also mean a possible sequel, you wish the makers the best by making this well-intentioned attempt to make an exciting youth film with limited resources.