Review: Vet Hard (2005)


Director: Tim Oliehoek | 90 minutes | action, drama, comedy, romance, crime | Actors: Bracha van Doesburgh, Cas Janssen, Jack Wouterse, Johnny de Mol, Kürt Rogiers, Jaak van Assche, Peter van den Begin, Ton Kas, Bert André, Cees Geel

“Vet Hard” is without a doubt the most successful Dutch film of the past year. Thanks to a good advertising campaign and ditto promotion, the debut of the 25-year-old Tim Oliehoek grew into a real box-office success. Now that the hype surrounding the film has passed and the film will soon be available on DVD, it is a good time to take a closer look at this product. Is “Vet Hard” really as fun as the ad leads you to believe?

Well to be very brief: No, it is not. “Vet Hard” is quite a nice movie, but no more than that. In fact, if you are a little familiar with Danish cinema, you will soon recognize “Vet Hard” as a shameless clone of “Gamle mænd i nye biler”. The latter film was released here under the name “Old Men In New Cars” (2002).

Oliehoek has recreated the Danish original almost scene by scene. If you have already seen the Scandinavian film, you can skip “Fat Hard” with confidence. With the exception of a few cameos by well-known Dutch people, the young Dutch director has almost literally copied his source material. And that’s a shame.

A pity for anyone who has seen the original and a pity about the misplaced honor that Oliehoek receives. “Fat Hard” is not as original as all advertising would have you believe. Anyway, because many people are probably not familiar with Danish cinema, a Dutch remake can still be justified.

“Vet Hard” is about the obese criminal Bennie (Wouterse). The crook comes out of prison after five years and to his horror he learns that his foster father Mast is dying. Mast’s liver is not so good anymore. Bennie decides to get a new organ for his foster father in a rather aggressive way. For this, he enlists the help of a necrophile (Rogiers) and two chef’s helpers (Janssen and De Mol). In the meantime, the twisted, suicidal Katja (Van Doesburgh) also ends up with the company.

As mentioned, “Vet Hard” is based on a Danish film. And just like that Scandinavian version, the Dutch version is also extremely rude, blunt and rowdy. All characters are larger than life and cartoonish “Tom & Jerry violence” dominates the film. So you have to love that. The problem is that such extremities are fun, but become irritating over time. After having seen a similar explosion or death taint a number of times, the fun goes away. That was already the case in the Danish version and that is also the case in the Dutch edition.
It is a shame that Oliehoek has not refined the source material. If the story had been adjusted a bit, you might get a little more involved in all the action that passes on your screen. Some more elaborate characters and less chaotic and noisy violence would have been “Fat Hard”. The film is literally screaming for your attention. The only resting points in this production are the scenes in which Janssen and De Mol play the leading role. The controlled play of these young actors is really a relief between the hard explosions and the evergreens of George Baker shot at full volume.

The film is also packed with action and inside jokes, so in terms of spectacle there is little to say about “Fat Hard”. Half-known Netherlands is also featured in this movie. From Chazia Mourali to Jac Goderie: everyone who ever comes face to face on TV can be seen in this film. And sometimes that is fun.

Mourali, in particular, is very funny in her tiny cameo performance as a bitchy nurse. Olga Zuiderhoek is also very enjoyable as a stupid bank employee. The main roles are well played by the cast, but due to the enormous lack of character depth and the interchangeability of many characters, “Fat Hard” often gets stuck in good intentions. The film doesn’t really come to life anywhere, due to its immense superficiality. Many characters are so similar that you hardly see a difference. You have gentle characters and grumpy stupid powers and that’s it. There is nothing more.

It is purely thanks to the charisma of an acting cannon like Wouterse that “Vet Hard” is still reasonably acceptable. A less gifted actor could not have done anything with a one-dimensional and overly blunt role like this one. In addition to Wouterse, newcomer Van Doesburgh also holds his own between the brutal over-the-top violence. A no small feat for a first-time actress. And as said, Janssen and De Mol still manage to leave a pleasant impression despite their small roles and interchangeable characters. The other cast members remain rather anonymous due to their lackluster portrayal and weak characters.

All in all, “Vet Hard” is a decent movie. The movie has its moments, but a classic it is zeker not. With your mind at zero and with a glass of alcohol nearby, this product is easy to chop.

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