Exit To Heaven

"Punchline" meets "Brian's Song" in "Exit to Heaven," about two young standup comics climbing to the top while one also struggles against terminal illness. Both laughter and tears are M.I.A. here, however, with German TV helmer-scenarist Brigitte Muller delivering a package as emotionally plastic as it is glossy.

With:
With: Frank Giering, Steffen Wink, Catherine Flemming, Uwe Steimle, Tom Schilling, Jurgen Schomagel, Kay Bartholomaus Schulze, Ellen Ten Damme, Regula Grauwiller, Simon Prescott.

“Punchline” meets “Brian’s Song” in “Exit to Heaven,” about two young standup comics climbing to the top while one also struggles against terminal illness. Both laughter and tears are M.I.A. here, however, with German TV helmer-scenarist Brigitte Muller delivering a package as emotionally plastic as it is glossy. Euro TV sales aside, misfired weepy looks set for a fast exit to distribber limbo.

Recent hits like “Der Bewegte Mann” notwithstanding, “Exit” does its unintentional best to reaffirm the old saw that Germany and comedy are two concepts that cancel one another out. Protags — mercurial, womanizing Paul (Steffen Wink) and earnest teddy bear Alex (Frank Giering) — are chosen for a national stand-up competition. Our only clue that they’re supposed to be talented is that the other contestants are worse. Dying of cancer, Alex makes it possible for Paul to realize his dream — to be coached by retired master comic Rob Patterson (Simon Prescott) — but Paul doesn’t discover the true meaning of friendship until It’s Too Late. Giering shows charisma, but pic’s humor is soaked in syrupy, formula sentiment, making for a blandpackage. Dreary English-language rock tunes mar otherwise slick widescreen production.

Exit To Heaven

German

Production: A Bavaria Film Intl. presentation of a Samfilm production in association with Seven Pictures and Vela-X. Produced by Ewa Karlstrom, Andreas Ulmke-Smeaton. Directed, written by Brigitte Muller.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Tom Fahrmann; editors, Biljana Grafwallner-Brezovska, Judith Futar-Klahn; music, Rainer Oleak; set designer, Jurgen Bieling. Reviewed at Cinequest San Jose Film Festival, Feb. 23, 2001. Running time: 98 MIN.

With: With: Frank Giering, Steffen Wink, Catherine Flemming, Uwe Steimle, Tom Schilling, Jurgen Schomagel, Kay Bartholomaus Schulze, Ellen Ten Damme, Regula Grauwiller, Simon Prescott.

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