Dir: Barna Kabay, Katalin Petenyi. Hungary. 1999. 92 mins.
Prod co: Europe 2000. Supported by RTL Klub. Int'l sales: Europe 2000. Prod: Barna Kabay. Scr: Gabor Nogradi, Robert Koltai. DoP: Tibor Mathe. Ed: Mari Miklos. Music: Gabor Berkes. Main cast: Karoly Eperjes, Robert Koltai, Judit Pogany, Kata Husazrik, Attila Arpa, Sandor Gaspar, Agi Szirtes, Peter Balazs, Monika Ullmann.
Already tipped for international festival exposure, this new comedy is part of the new wave of light-hearted domestic fare that is bringing audiences back to the cinema in Hungary. Starring popular Hungarian actors Robert Koltai and Karoly Eperjes, the film is already a box office hit at home and its appealing plot and characters make it the kind of light entertainment that should also travel.
It marks a departure for its co-directors Barna Kabay and Katalin Petenyi, long known both at home and abroad for their award-winning documentaries that broke new ground by taking an uncompromising look at Hungary's communist legacy. The film, about nouveau riche Hungarians trying to enter society by hiring a butler, could have been cloying in lesser hands but the characters are warm and loveable even if they are predictable. Koltai is especially good as Mr Schneider, the plumber who loves spending his money on tacky garden gnomes and other knick-knacks and refuses to give up his old friends who are still poor. Things go haywire when his wife employs a butler, Hippolyt (Eperjes), in an attempt to break into Budapest high society.
This is a highly-polished, gag-filled romp designed to lift the heart and keep audiences everywhere laughing until the end.