Teuton multihyphenate Til Schweiger goes from hero to zero in “Rabbit Without Ears 2,” a flat, messy sequel to the mega-grossing romantic comedy that made a star of his co-lead, Nora Tschirner. Schweiger and Tschirner strike only minor sparks this time as an odd couple who just can’t get it together, and the pic is a long haul sans its predecessor’s zippy dialogue and comedic charm. Pic opened in early December with a $9.6 million first frame that knocked “New Moon” into second place, but this unfunny bunny looks unlikely to come close to the original’s $74 million local gross.
It’s two years later, and geeky, bespectacled Anna Gotzlowski (Tschirner), who works at a kids’ day-care center, and hunky ladies’ man Ludo Decker (Schweiger) are now living together. Early scenes have some fun with traditional male-female miscommunication as Anna nags born bachelor Ludo, but when he starts chatting with a horny, double-D ex (Edita Malovcic) at a disco, flat-chested Anna goes postal.
After an uneasy truce, Anna invites an old friend, Ralph (Ken Duken), to stay for a couple of days, and Ludo is thrown for a loop when he happens upon Anna’s sex diary, which gives Ralph 10 out of 10 for, uh, size and performance. His manhood wounded, Ludo resorts to extraordinary measures that only make things worse as the misunderstandings mount.
The charm of the original depended a lot on Tschirner’s klutzy character and Schweiger’s sendup of his matinee-idol persona as a skirt-chasing, muckraking journalist sentenced to community service at her kids’ center. “Rabbit Without Ears 2” pretty much abandons the latter setting — and with it, the funny/charming sequences with the children — as well as any references to Ludo’s career. (His photog partner, Moritz, reprised by Matthias Schweighoefer, is encumbered with an entirely separate side plot involving his own disastrous sex life.)
The script — again co-written by Schweiger and Anika Decker, but with Schweiger this time in prime position — tries for a simple battle-of-the-sexes format, punctuated by unfunny setpieces: Moritz in an embarrassing toilet situation, Ludo in drag, etc. The lack of any central dramatic thread becomes palpable after the first few reels, and Tschirner and Schweiger don’t generate enough chemistry this time out, or enough nuanced dialogue, to keep the boat afloat. Final section, with multiple flashbacks to happier times, is structurally inept.
Pic makes few allowances for auds who haven’t seen the original. And the sheer notion of geeky Anna keeping a log of her multiple sexual conquests is so out of character that it basically sinks the movie’s believability.
Technical package is smooth, with Schweiger’s favored autumnal color scheme and multiple soundtrack songs to keep the momentum going. But this is a lazy “Rabbit,” with no bounce or imagination.