Film / Friendship

German 2010 movie dealing with a coming-of-age story of politically messed up guys.

The Berlin Wall fell and two lifelong friends from East Germany, Veit and Tom, are prone to travel to San Francisco, the former one in order to find his father whose only life sign since his flight out of the GDR is an annual happy birthday postcard always stamped from the same post office in San Francisco.

Their low budget only gets them a flight to New York and the rest doesn't suffice for a rail ticket, ending them up on an adventurous road trip across the country, never sure if they get to Frisco in time, and always in need to earn money to get there.

This Film Provides Examples Of:

  • The Alleged Car: Veit fantasizes about watching a Trabant driving down the Golden Gate Bridge and the fantasy becomes reality in the end.
  • All Germans Are Nazis: Default mode of the passport checking policeman at JFK airport.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
    Veit: Dancing? OK. Undressing myself, sure. At a gay strip club, I don't mind. But not to the anthem of the GDR!
  • Artistic License - Geography: Veit says that San Francisco were "the westernmost point of the world,..."
  • Badass Biker: They meet some in Tennessee and one of them even entrusts them to drive his brother's car back to California.
  • Berserk Button: Never tell Veit that your father had been a communist, even if you're a drunk American biker who lost his father in Vietnam!
  • Bittersweet Ending: So Troperiffic that it's mere technicalities: The Reveal in Frisco makes Veit suffer a Heroic B.S.O.D., but the Heterosexual Life-Partners reconcile from the Love Triangle and they see The Alleged Car crossing Golden Gate.
  • Black Boss Lady: The black police woman arresting Veit and Tom. May perhaps be just a low ranking cop on patrol duty, but can definitely act quite authoritatively.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Zoe
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Invoked and discussed at a diner in Tennessee.
  • Cool Car: Brought back to you from your biking brother at the other end of the country by entrusting it to two foreign road trippers.
  • Dead All Along: Veit's father
  • Dirty Communists: Whenever they try to explain which kind of Germany they come from, they often end up describing themselves like this, often with inconvenient consequences.
  • The Ditz: Tom, at times.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Or whatever. Is there a trope out there to describe a car driver smoking weed from an apple bong?
  • Eagleland: Both flavors, including
  • Expy: The first hitched driver is a clear embodiment of John Kricfalusi and the drawings in his car also clearly resemble The Ren & Stimpy Show cartoons.
  • Fish out of Water
  • Flashback: Tom and Veit getting to know each other as schoolchildren and stretching antennas to receive West radio.
  • From a Certain Point of View: Deconstructed. Veit always told Tom that his father died before they met and, when Tom finds out about the postcards somewhere in New York, argues that he said so because he was dead to him and wanted to forget his father after he flew to the West and he feared that his real motivation for the journey would make Tom call off his accompaniment. In the end we learn that his father has in fact been dead all the time, but Veit couldn't know that.
  • Goverment Conspiracy - The real story behind the postcards.
  • Ha Ha Ha No
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Veit after the revelation.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: After all, the movie is also about true friendship!
    Tom: From then on, Veit became my twenty-four!
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Veit is a culprit and a victim of this. Veit pulls his certain point of view on Tom when it comes to explaining his father's absence. And the Stasi pulled their certain point of view on Veit's family.
  • Love Triangle: A type 4 among Veit (A), Zoe (B) and Tom (C). Veit is so furious about Zoe spending the night with Tom that he drives to Frisco alone and leaves Tom behind at the motel. Tom will later pettily complain about Veit that he could at least have told him which post office in Frisco they were to go.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Discussed. Zoe has to explain her unsavvy East German companions about the Star Wars plot and shows parallels between Luke's quest in Star Wars and Veit's quest in the movie.
  • MacGuffin: The birthday postcards to Veit are the pretext for the whole journey. Oh, the Darth Vader helmet and the lightsword in the car trunk also provide for... the explanation above.
  • On the Money: They show quite some creativity in earning money on their trip.
  • Overprotective Dad: Things get awry when the boys flee the house they were dragged off to by some girls in Tennessee when gun crazy daddy gets back home.
  • Parental Abandonment: Veit's father.
  • Politically Correct History: Averted. As the movie is playing in 1990, New York City is correctly depicted with the Twin Towers.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Having grown up behind the Iron Curtain, Veit and Tom didn't know Star Wars before Zoe tells them about it.
  • Real-Life Relative: The actors playing Tom's parents in the beginning are indeed the parents of the actor playing the role of Tom, Matthias Schweighöfer.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Tom is red, Veit is blue.
  • The Reveal: Veit's father was actually killed at the Berlin Wall. The birthday postcards were sent by another emigrant who made a deal with the Stasi that they let him go west if he agrees to send ready-written fake letters to numerous abandoned families of killed border crossers to hold up a masquerade that their killed relatives had made it over there and were just fine.
  • Road Trip Plot
  • STD Immunity: Played with. When Amber (the blonde of the two chicks in Tennessee) refuses to have unprotected sex with him when condoms aren't handy and reasons with HIV awareness, low-brow Tom tries to talk her into it stating that he cannot have HIV/AIDS as he's from the East and that they didn't have it there. note  His proposal to get oral sex instead is rejected with awe.
  • Stranger Safety: Sure, Tom and Veit are just two low-brow foreign tourists who are not really prone to harm Zoe who gave them shelter. But the black biker of the gang entrusting two random guys the transit of his brother's car through all the US?
  • Title Drop
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Subverted. It's lampshaded as the subtitle is "The first Ossis (Easterners) in America... based on an almost true story", but the journey really happened and the making-of even shows interviews with the real-life Tom Zickler whose story the movie is based on.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: Veit and Tom strip as Eastern soldiers at the "Black Mustang" in Las Vegas to earn money for Tom's dentistry.
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: the entire reason for the trip.
  • You No Take Candle: Played straight first, but they get better.
    • Also inverted at the supermarket scene to be in New Mexico:
    Tom: Who's supposed to understand us? Have you ever encountered anybody here in America speaking something else but American? Look at that... (watching out to local girl) yeah, my friend would like to marry you and then just eat and eat like you until he gets just as round and polly! (local girl laughs) There she laughs!
    • This is later subverted to hell with Zoe, a half-German girl understanding every word of Tom's would-you-go-to-bed-with-me question. She'll later give them shelter and follow them up to Las Vegas.
    • Also featured in the Big "SHUT UP!" in Las Vegas.
  • You're Insane!: Tom's parents are very resilient about their journey. His mother just argues "that you even cannot speak English!", while his father says outright that "This is the total crap!"