The Schnitzel Paradise (2005)
Directed by: Martin Koolhoven | 82 minutes | comedy | Actors: Mounir Valentyn, Bracha van Doesburgh, Tygo Gernandt, Mimoun Oaïssa, Yahya Gaier, Frank Lammers, Micha Hulshof, Linda van Dyck, Gürkan Küçüksentürk, Sanne Vogel, Sabri Saad El Hamus, Mohammed Chaara
The film ‘Het Schnitzelparadijs’ is largely set in the kitchen of restaurant ‘De Blauwe Gier’. That kitchen is a world unto itself. Dozens of immigrant and native helpers trot around: waitresses, rinsers, cooks, assistant cooks and assistant cooks in training. The ever-roaring chef is a cross between a pirate ship and a Hell’s Angel, and there’s also a Yugoslave armed with a carving knife to attack the ham, steaks and hooked pig carcasses. The young Moroccan Nordip comes to work in this entourage and he falls in love with the beautiful, spontaneous and oh-so-Dutch Agnes.
Martin Koolhoven directed this comedy, based on the novel of the same name by Khalid Boudou. The story of a young Moroccan trying to find his way in contemporary Netherlands smacks a bit of multicultural issues, but in practice it is not that bad. The drama is never put on edge, something you don’t have to be too sad about in these troubled times. ‘Het Schnitzelparadijs’ is a pure entertainment film, without too many moral questions, without elaborate characters, but with its heart in the right place.
In terms of story, the film does not offer much. The romance between Agnes and Nordip unfolds in an extremely predictable way. That in itself does not have to be a problem, a comedy does not necessarily need a great plot, but then the jokes must be very strong. And therein lies the major flaw of the film. The humor of ‘Het Schnitzelparadijs’ is rather bland to say the least. Lots of yelling and swearing, pushing and pulling, throwing and throwing, a bit of a fuss with cultural prejudices but never a surprising joke. Just a few casual remarks from restaurant owner Meerman (Linda van Dijck) and the beautiful tortured head of Goran the Yugoslav (Tygo Gernandt), but there is not much more to laugh about.
‘Het Schnitzelparadijs’ cannot do much to make up for this deficiency. The starting point is sympathetic, actress Bracha van Doesburg portrays a particularly charming Agnes and the Babylonian scenes in the kitchen will be recognizable to anyone who has ever worked in such an environment. But without a good story, without developed characters, without surprising twists and without successful jokes, that is simply not enough. Sin.