For decades Gerhard Polt, together with the likes of Loriot or Dieter Hildebrandt, has been a pinnacle of intellectual humour. The American reader may compare the style of George Carlin to that of Carrot Top and then compare Polts humour to your average German slapstick performers, who generally steal their material from US-TV anyway. Polts wit was unique, sharply observing and reflecting his middle-class Bavarian background in a way that few others were capable (or even dared).
Having mentioned George Carlin (or take if you like Seinfeld or Richard Pryor), imagine them acting like the silliest copy of Peewee Herman, in a movie that not only features Carrot Top BUT also Tom Green and Ernest P. Worrell! You might imagine that the film was directed by the bozos who committed those "Epic Movie"-films but to your disgust, once the credits roll, you discover that the atrocity had been filmed by Blake Edwards. Not a very dignifying thought, I know, but to mention dignity and "Germanikus" in one review is a paradox in itself.
We're told the simple yarn of Germanikus (Polt, unfortunately), a rather incompetent member of a German tribe who, through the most unlikely of circumstances, twists and many flat jokes, becomes the emperor of Rome. The road is littered with cameo appearances of many, many currently fashionable slapstick- and stand-up comedians and even less fashionable comedians, hoping for some promotion.
To his credit it must be said that Polt looks uncomfortable at all times, perhaps owning his friend and partner Hanns Christian Müller a favour. Or perhaps Müller witnessed Polt committing murder with a chainsaw and used that to blackmail Polt into the role. No less uncomfortable in her quasi-Asterix costume looks Gisela Schneeberger, having played Polts wife for the past three decades, she might have decided that there was no good reason for breaking a habit. Or perhaps the three of them just needed the money.
I can honestly say that I recommend virtually everything Polt-related. "Kehraus", "Herr Ober", "Man spricht Deutsh" or the cult TV-series "Fast Wie im Richtigen Leben"; all are highlights of German
sorry, my bad, Bavarian comedy. Listen to all the audio-books and watch his stand-up show wherever he may appear. They are as brilliant as they have been for the past 40 years. Just, whatever you do, avoid "Germanikus" like the plague.