A movie by a Swiss Jewish director about German Jews, Go for Zucker deals with multiple problems in German post-reunification society. Among many conflicts, depicted in this movie, are the differences between the West and the East, now and then, religious and not, politically correct and not, family relations or absence thereof, conflict of generations and sexes, all with the grain of humor and a very likable main character resulted in a very popular comedy. Praised by critics and surprising to all, since this is one of not very many Jewish comedies made in Germany since the Third Reich, Go for Zucker is funny, tragic and refreshing to watch.
The main character Jakob Zuckerman, known as Jackie Zucker, loses him family, when his mother and brother leave East Berlin for the West. Left at the age of fourteen, he abandons his Jewish roots, stating years later “I had nothing to do with that club,” and becomes a dedicated communist with a successful career as a sports announcer. Jackie’s fortune changes with the fall of the Wall. A “reunification loser” who is now jobless, a drinker and a liar, he scrapes by on his ability to play pool, gamble and a partial ownership of a strip club. After the death of his mother, Jackie is forced to reunite with his Orthodox brother, who he has not seen in decades. In accordance with their mother’s will they are to sit shiva with their families and sort out any tensions between them.
The difficulty of two families who know each other, yet have not seen each other in so long, sitting through shiva and the uneasiness with which they handle every situation could be a metaphor for relation between Germans after reunification. It seems as if by victimizing the main character the director illustrates all the negative effects of capitalism that were brought upon the East after the reunification.
Very blunt humor (portraying Jews as lying, money loving, and cunning), variety of bold and rich characters and a somewhat chaotically moving camera gives us a feeling of constant movement, indecisiveness, and perhaps even struggle. Whether this is the struggle to belong, to adjust or to survive is left up to the viewer’s interpretation.