How could a movie that, on its surface, bears certain similarities to an Adam Sandler movie—That’s My Boy, to be precise—also be one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year? That’s the intriguing question posed by Toni Erdmann, which premiered at Cannes earlier this year. At that festival, The A.V. Club’s Mike D’Angelo gave it an “A,” calling it “sublime” and saying director Maren Ade “begins with a fairly simple dynamic and then proceeds to tease out every possible facet, taking her characters to truly unexpected places and ending on a note of disarming irresolution.”
If that’s not a recommendation, we don’t know what is. Toni Erdmann stars Peter Simonischek as Winfried Conradi, a middle-aged German man with a fondness for elaborate practical jokes, and Sandra Hüller as his adult daughter Ines, a driven career woman who’s less than pleased when her father decides to pay her an impromptu visit.
Toni Erdmann finally makes its way into American theaters on December 25.