A possible translation might be: “Maria, he doesn’t like the food!”

The movie is based on the book “Maria, ihm schmeckt’s nicht. Geschichte von meiner italinischen Sippe” (“Maria, he doesn’t like the food! Stories about my Italian clan”) by Jan Weiler, which was published in 2003. I knew about the book, but had not read it myself (which I still might after seeing the movie.)

On the way to finally get introduced to his girlfriend’s parents, Jan and Sara somehow decide to get married. The initial hellos proceed very different than Jan expected, and he gets the impression that Sara’s father does not like him.
Sara’s father decides that the wedding has to take place in his home town in Italy, despite the wishes of the bridegroom.  This is the starting point for the movie. The family goes to Italy for three weeks in order to organize the wedding, Jan is confronted with his future in-laws who only speak Italian – while he does not, and a sequence of entertaining scenes based on Italian stereotypes about Germans, and German stereotypes about Italians, enfolds. I laughed so hard that I cried.

The main character, however, is Jan’s future father-in-law, who acts “Italian” with the Germans around, and “German” with the Italians around, having been influenced by living in Germany for decades by now. And he is the character who breaks the entertaining exchange of stereotypes by telling anecdotes about his life, how it was like to move to Germany in order to find work, having his degree not being accepted, facing racism and discrimination in work and in daily life, getting married to a German. These earnest moments are a thoughtful counterpart which creates a balance to the entertaining scenes.

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