"Lassie - Eine abenteuerliche Reise" is a New German 100-minute movie from 2020 and this one here was directed by Hanno Olderdissen and written by Jane Ainscough. This was the last film i watched before theaters here were forced to close because of the Corona virus and the film aired less than 3 hours before the ban came into effect, so I was a bit surprised that still a total of 8 people were in my showing (4 of them kids, 4 adults). Then again, most other theaters had already closed before, so if people wanted to go see a film, then there weren't too many options left anymore, even in a big metropolis like Berlin. And when I left the theater, there were even far more puring inside to see other films. But letÄs focus on this one here now. The writer and director that I already mentioned are both fairly experienced, but not super prolific I'd say. Of course, the name of the title character makes obvious that this is based on the Eric Knight novel and he lived (and died) a long long time ago. At 100 minutes, it is a pretty long film already taking into account that it is mostly for kids, but those in my showing did a fine job with their patience I'd say and enjoyed the watch. Good for them. I cannot be too generous here. There are positive aspects, but the negative aspects overweigh in my opinion. So let me lose a few words on the cast. I think that Letkowski as the antagonists did gave one of the better portrayals here. He wants to get money through illegal activities, so he can settle down somewhere in a far away country where there is better weather than here in Germany. But as always in these kids films, they make the bad guys look clumsy like when he lands in the mud or runs into the tree or is stupid enough to tell the police officer about his evil plan. A smaller antagonist is the old daog-hating lady at the apartment and well she gets a moment of farting. The only one I liked more than Letkowski (from the humans) was Justus von Dohnányi, who is a true scene stealer here with how he gets so emotional, but also lets his boss know that he would not survive without him for a week indirectly stating how loyal he is and doesn't care about the money. There are several other pretty famous actors in here, at least to German film buffs like myself. Bezzel, Mühe, Habich, von Bülow and even Pallaske (who is usually weak) give okay performance, but never truly stand out. Bezzel was maybe the one I was most curious to see here because I like his crime comedies a lot, even if this is a totally different genre. Still pay attention to how in these comedies he acts next to Simon Schwarz and here he acts next to Schwarz' doppelgänger Johann von Bülow, even if it just a coincidence. I wonder what he thought about that if he also thinks tey totally look alike. I know I am not the only one who thinks so. And yes Gode Benedix is in here too, even if only briefly during one scene, but he is always easy to recognize. Probably only for me, but I see some great recognition value in him.
Okay, but away from the human characters, the big star here is of course Lassie or I should say the dog that portrays Lassie. Judging from the name listed during the credits, it was actually a male dog. By the way, it was nice the animals also got included in the credits and featured as actors. Why are they missing here on imdb though? And the dog that played Lassie here was also the only one I think. Frequently in these films they have several dogs play one character, so it is even more impressive what the lead actor (we can call him that I think) did here. Big props. Sadly, as good as he was, the story is not even remotely on par and same is true about the actors. I can start with the child actor who plays the boy that is really in love with Lassie. Nico Marischka is the name. He was very bad and close to being miscast honestly. He did not feel authentic at all, which of course also had to do with the writing. Truly poor. I will list three examples which make it obvious that once again they struggled hard with writing a boy realistically and not like an adult and please don't tell me he was acting like a grown-up. First example would be when he sees the rubber chicken and makes the connection to von Bülow's character leaving a long time ago andsays he understands how he feels. Next would be when he says to his mother that he does not go see Lassie because the dog still could not deal with him leaving immediately afterwards again. Come on. Every boy that age would still go and enjoy the time with his dog, especially if he is missing the dog as much as they want us to believe he does. And the third example is when he says he did teach all kinds of tricks to Lassie, but not how to survive on his own. It's a dog. You cannot teach her that. The problem is really that with every scene featuring the boy, every quote from him, there is a lot of drama and emotion included and sadly the actor could not make it work at all. Like I said, the writer is equally to blame. Please do not tell us they stop a test because he misses his dog. And the way we should like him because he is bullied by his peers at school (especially one) is just extremely poor writing. If you want emotions out of your audience, do something for it. The way it is handled here, I cannot see the talent. Yeah, he has a dog let's bully him because of that. Sigh.
Away from that, i.e. away from the boy, there were other pretty weak moments. Best example is at the show with Pallaske's character (and once again I am surprised to say Pallaske herself is not to blame): Lassie jumps through the burning hoop (is that the right word?) at the exact same moment synchronously with the small dog despite never having jumped through something like that before and never having had any training before. It may be a smart dog, but that is just too much. And also that randomly the bad guy shows up there, I mean it is far far away from when we saw him last time. Did he get into trouble with the auction by the way? Anyway, okay he followed the video alright, still pretty unrealistic and in addition with all the other unrealistic stuff, it is just way too much and feels not remotely credible. Another example would be that the girl who sees Lassie and makes the video did so seconds after getting the info that Lassie is missing. Huge coincidence again. I thought this girl would be a bigger part of the story afterwards, but nope. It makes sense though because there already is one female child character at the center of the story and in contrast to her male counterpart she was pretty good, also written in a nice way that surprised me because there is really worlds beteen these two child performers in terms of quality. It's Emma Bading's sister by the way and also she has appeared in a lot for her age, in many more projects than Marischka, which may explain the difference in class, even if her politically induced opening moment with the climate change message and the stupid polar bear reference was nothing good either, but that was just the writer's fault. As for the grown-ups, there is a rushed-in plot on pregnance, another rushed-in plot on father-son struggles, financial issues that force people to move to another city, more financial issues that force people to discontinue work in a 400-year-old enterprise and so on. So lots of drama there and almost nothing of it elaborated on properly. It is disappointing because the film is really long enough that they could have done so. It would have been nice to leave out some of this (pseudo) drama and give the other aspects better elaboration. Still, it is not a failure. There were still moments that I smiled about like the gag where father and son call the old dog-hating woman a cow and when they scream it out there, we hear a cow respond with a moo. That was fine haha. Here and there another mildly funny moment, but nothing as good as that, except JvD perhaps. Still baffling to me how Anna Maria Mühe really resembles her dad. Now I wonder if they will make a sequel to this one. It would not be a surprise. Looking at Ostwind, Rico and Oskar, Hanni and Nanni, Fünf Freunde, Bibi and Tina, there are so many kids movies that really resulted in a full franchise and not just one film. It could certainly happen for this one here too. Sadly, they will probably not recast the lead and this is perhaps the key reason why I would be very hesitant to watch such a sequel. We will see. I think this is all then. Despite some good aspects (I mentioned them, in addition the music is fine too), overall I give this film a thumbs-down. I don't really think Knight would have been too happy with the outcome here. atch something else instead. I am actually pretty curious though how people see this film, those people who grew up with the original Lassie and they must be really old now. Somehow I wish they like it and that it does not have a negative impact on their beautiful memories. I must still say the idea of Lassie mastering this gigantically long road to come back home feels not realistic again and as this is at the film's core, especially at the end, I struggled with this turn of events. But I appreciated the bitler's reaction again for sure. Okay, that's really all now.