Buba review: Confusing narrative hurts German comedy

Netflix’s Buba is a tale of a man named Jakob Otto who believes that he needs to be miserable in order to confirm his loved ones live a peaceful and tragedy free life. Things take a drastic turn when he and his brother Dante get involved with the Albanian mafia.

The film is a prequel to the Netflix show, How to sell Drugs Online (Fast).

Story

Buba gives us a quick glimpse into Jakob’s childhood when he won a break dancing competition to impress a girl name Jule. He later finds out that his parents have died in a car crash and Dante is in a coma.

His superstitious grandmother Ingrid makes him believe that this tragedy is the result of him enjoying his life too much. Jakob is brainwashed and accepts that he needs to be miserable so that his loved ones can survive.

Miraculously, Dante wakes up and returns home but with a lot of medical conditions. Ingrid soon passes away and the brothers grow up into a life of petty crime.

Soon after, their antics attract the attention of an Albanian crime family who threaten them to stop committing crimes in their jurisdiction. The brothers move away initially but Jakob’s life getting happy and comfortable forces them to return and start working for the mafia.

This new job brings a lot of laughs, adventures and betrayals, giving Jakob a whole new perspective towards his life.

Performances

Bjarne Mädel plays Jakob with bizarre perfection. He’s the most imperfect human being one can ever come across and Mädel makes sure he aces that aspect of his performance. Furthermore, he also succeeds in nailing the lovable loser trope.

He dives deep into the character’s self loathing and guilty personality which drives him to self harm in hopes of letting his brother live a happy and safe life.

Speaking of the brother, Georg Friedrich as Dante is quite predictable. He turns out to be the brains of the duo and dictates Jakob around to attain selfish goals.

Friedrich is extremely believable as the impulsive brother who hides behind a mask of jealousy. However, you can guess from the very start that his antics will create a tussle between the siblings. If the intention was to hide Dante’s intentions, Buba fails to stick the landing.

Positives

Buba’s strength lies in its depiction of the relationship between the brothers. Jakob and Dante are the heart of the narrative and witnessing their highs and lows is a treat. The premise is quite interesting as well and sets up a good introduction.

Being a prequel to How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast), director Arne Feldhusen makes sure it provides enough insight into the antagonist of the show, which is Jakob aka Buba.

Mädel’s and Friedrich’s characters are well developed and it is easy to understand their respective motivations. Their journey makes them worthy of being cared for. Unlike the rest of the cast.

Negatives

If you are ever able to get over the absurdity of the plot, you’ll realise that Buba doesn’t really have one. The film is a collection of random gags, weird characters, and over the top sequences that make it a hard sell.

Throughout its runtime, Buba builds upon the initial premise of Jakob’s tendency to be miserable and doesn’t really do anything with it. All we get is multiple gags blended with action sequences and a sloppy gang war that has no meaning.

Unlike Jakob and Dante, the rest of the cast is pretty much there to fill spaces and look silly. You will not care about a single character apart from the brothers which is a shame as the film had so much potential.

Labelled as a comedy, Buba is hardly ever funny. You’re more likely to be scratching your heads out of confusion instead of clutching your ribs laughing.

It shows that the writing aspect of the film suffered. There are a lot of directions that the plot tries to take and builds up a lot of confusion instead of providing valuable explanation or exposition.

Verdict

Buba could have been a blast but turned out to be a mildly entertaining pop. Despite its obvious flaws however, you can watch it for its sheer absurdity or if you enjoy dark humor. However, don’t expect too much or you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

Rating: 2/5


Also Read: Buba ending explained: How did Dante betray Jakob?