Review: The Skippers of the Chameleon (2003)

The Skippers of the Chameleon (2003)

Directed by: Steven de Jong | 100 minutes | family, adventure | Actors: Koen van den Donk, Jos van den Donk, Maarten Spanjer, Dominique van Vliet, Steven de Jong, Willeke van Ammelrooy, Peter Tuinman, Joep Sertons, Rense Westra, Saar Koningsberger, Gijs Scholten van Aschat, Klaas Hofstra, Arjen Rooseboom, Peter Groot Kormelink, Sipke Jan Bousema, Meriyem Manders, Mads Wittermans, Holly Harms, Tim Zweije, Wybe Bruinsma, Ed Nijpels, Henk Westbroek, Piet Paulusma

In the summer of 2003 the time had finally come! The very first film adaptation of the first book in the Chameleon series by the Frisian writer Hotze de Roos. Who doesn’t know them, the Chameleon books about the adventures of the twins Hielke and Sietse and their boat? Especially boys but also girls grew up with it.

The Frisian director and actor Steven de Jong of ‘De Fûke’ (2000) and TV series “Westenwind” (1999-2003) had wanted to make this film for a while. From the hundreds of twins, he chose the then fourteen-year-old Koen and Jos van den Donk for the roles of Hielke and Sietse because they had those real Dutch rascals. It was the feature film debut of the twins from Schagen and they are doing really fantastic. The director himself took on the role of Evert (Heit) Klinkhamer, the sympathetic father of the twins. As usual, De Jong chose people with whom he had previously worked for the other roles, such as Rense Westra (constable Zwart) and Peter Tuinman (Mr Bleeker in ‘De Fûke’ (1995)), Joep Sertons (doctor) and Dominique van Vliet ( Mem) in TV series “Spijkerhoek” (1989-1993) and “On the way to tomorrow” (2003).

For the film, De Jong deviated considerably from the book and also used material from the other Kameleon books. This film introduces the Klinkhamer rascals with their hearts of gold. Hielke and Sietse like to stir things up in their village of Lenten. This to the disgust of the silly constable Zwart, who just can’t keep the ringleaders apart. Mem and Heit Klinkhamer adore their sons and secretly laugh at the boys’ pranks. Farmer Gerben Zonderland (Maarten Spanjer) likes to take the twins for a ride. The adult-looking Saar Koningsberger (best known for the Essent commercials) plays the urban Esther Bleeker who becomes the girl next door to Hielke and Sietse. The character of Esther Bleeker is made up for a romantic storyline in the movie, in the book there is only a boy named Cor Bleeker. Mrs Bleeker, her haughty aunt is a nice role by Willeke van Ammelrooy. Her foster father (Peter Tuinman) always tries to cheer Esther up. However, a heavy storm (predicted by who else but Frisian Piet Paulusma) means that Esther has to temporarily live with the Klinkhamers, which causes some rivalry between the boys. Due to certain circumstances, the twins’ greatest wish (a boat of their own) comes true, the charming doctor (Joep Sertons) notices something about the colors of the boat and the Skippers of the Chameleon are born! With this refurbished boat, they try to solve crimes when a bunch of nerds make the neighborhood unsafe.

‘The Skippers of the Kameleon’ feels like a film made with a lot of (Frisian) love. The fact that everything is shown as faithful as possible to the 1950s gives the film an authentic and cozy feeling. In addition, the acting is convincing. There are also nice cameos from Piet Paulusma, Ed Nijpels and Henk Westbroek as an ice cream man. The film music is also very good with catchy songs like Wind in my hair and the beautiful Forever together. The film attracted more than 750,000 visitors, making it the most visited Dutch film of 2003.

‘The skippers of the Kameleon’ is a great adventure for young and old. Every viewer will embrace Hielke and Sietse.

Comments are closed.