Jan 16, 2015


Out of all the peoples of Europe, the Dutch seem to be the least interested in attracting international audiences with their films despite the fact that most people from the Netherlands speak better English than most Americans and would have no trouble creating films that both yanks and Brits can understand. Of course, Paul Verhoeven successfully made the transition from being a Dutch arthouse auteur to a master of reasonably clever Hollywood blockbusters, but he is an exception. If there is a Dutch filmmaker that has tried his damnedest to make reasonably Hollywood-esque genre flicks with big stupid car explosions, crude humor, and elaborate chase scenes that are specially tailored to appeal to a mainstream international audience, it is writer, director, producer, and composer Dick Maas (Amsterdamned, Sint aka Saint Nick), whose works have managed to gain respectable cult-followings, including his ‘killer elevator’ flick De lift (1983) aka The Lift (which the director later remade in English as The Shaft (2001) aka Down starring Naomi Watts) and especially his proudly lowbrow comedy Flodder (1986) aka Welfare Party aka Les Lavigueur déménagent, which managed to spawn two sequels, as well as a fairly long-running spin-off TV series. To be fairly blatant, Flodder is the Dutch equivalent of trash Hollywood kosher comedies featuring Hebraic hogs like Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill, albeit minus the incessant Jew jokes and borderline homoerotic scatological humor. Also, as a work with genuinely politically incorrect humor that savagely satires the lunacy of the Dutch welfare state, Maas’ film is a tad bit more sophisticated than the typical neo-vaudevillian swill that is incessantly defecated out of Tinseltown. Indeed, like The Beverly Hillbillies meets National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) with a shade or two of Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), this sometimes delightfully despicable piece of socially scathing celluloid trash depicts the hysterical hilarity that ensues when a typically weak and scrawny idealistic liberal social worker coerces the city council of Amsterdam to move a vulgar and antisocial white trash criminal family into the most affluent neighborhood in the city after it emerges that the eponymous lumpenprole family’s state-owned house is located next to a toxic waste dump. Although admittedly sometimes annoyingly formulaic and just plain retarded, Flodder offers the viewer the singular celluloid fantasy of seeing both the death of the liberal humanist dream in the form of the ultimate ‘tokkie’ untermenschen trash dynasty. 

 Short, swarthy, bald, and weasel-like social worker Jacques “Sjakie” van Kooten (Lou Landré) seems to believe, like commie true believers and other ‘useful idiot’ types whose idealism tends to be exploited by various sorts of schemers (ranging from authoritarian regimes to welfare queens), that humans are completely malleable and he is on an insanely idealistic mission to prove it by proposing the ‘zany’ social experiment of moving a poor criminal family into Amsterdam’s most prestigious upper-class neighborhood, Zonnedael, which is inhabited by a number of doctors and high-ranking military officers. Against the better judgement of the Amsterdam city council, Sjakie manages to let the delinquent Flodder family move into the the upscale neighborhood after their dilapidated government-owned humble abode is deemed condemned after a toxic waste dump is found nearby. Like virtually all white trash families, the Flodders have no patriarch and are led by a morbidly obese matriarch named Ma Flodder (Nelly Frijda) who has five bastard kids of varying ages that all have different fathers, including Johnny (Maas regular Huub Stapel), brother Kees (René van 't Hof), sister Kees (played by Croatian-Dutch model, singer, and Playboy Playmate Tatjana Šimić aka ‘Tatjana’), Toet (Nani Lehnhausen), and Henkie (Horace Cohen). 27-year-old Johnny is the oldest of the tribe and like many backwards proles, he has a fashion sense that is a couple decades behind as demonstrated by his red jacket and blue jeans à la James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955). Kees is a shameless slut with a bad blonde dye job who is buggered at night by her seemingly half-retarded brother with the same name. The youngest preteen brother Henkie also sometimes likes to pimp his sister Kees out to anyone that is willing to pay, so long as they have cold hard cash. Aside from Ma and the kids, a wheelchair-bound mute fellow named ‘Grandpa Flodder’ (Jan Willem Hees) who is not actually related to the family, suffers from dementia, and has a childlike toy train obsession, as well as a murderously violent black Bouvier des Flandres dog named ‘Whisky,’ also belongs to the family. The Flodders may not have much in terms of brains, common sense, personal hygiene, material wealth, or fashion sense, but they are hopelessly loyal to one another and can survive anything, including the passive-aggressive wrath of the superlatively ‘stiff’ Dutch bourgeoisie. 

 Like many low class individuals, Ma Flodder, like her children, is completely oblivious to her glaring trashiness and self-righteously asks her social worker Sjakie upon seeing her new luxury home, “Is this a good neighborhood? I don’t want to lower myself.” Luckily, Ma’s kids are slightly more perceptive regarding their surroundings and immediately begin hitting on hot twat blonde teen bourgeois babes that live in the neighborhood, thus starting a sort of unofficial civil war between the Flodder brother and local preppie boys that wear really lame baby blue sweaters. In fact, after brother Kees spends a little too long staring at two blondes playing tennis while fantasizing that they are unclad, he suffers a beating from a gang of malicious preppie pansies, so Johnny decides to chase down the posh pricks in his pink convertible in a wild and wacky chase scene that ultimately results in the rich kids crashing their luxury automobile in a swimming pool. When the feisty yet sexually repressed wife of a seemingly impotent authoritarian military officer named Colonel Wim Kruisman (Herbert Flack) causes a minor fender bender with Johnny’s car, the untermensch gentleman refuses to take money from the little lady and instead takes her card instead so he can defile her later. Indeed, Johnny and Yolanda Kruisman (played by Dutch supermodel Apollonia van Ravenstein) start a lurid love affair. Meanwhile, sister Kees seduces her car dealer neighbor Ed Neuteboom (Bert André) while her brother takes polaroids. Naturally, Johnny and his brothers use the pictures to blackmail their neighbor Ed into giving them a free sports car. Meanwhile, Colonel Kruisman gives Yolanda a nice punch in the face after he catches his wifey cheating on him, so she packs her bags and moves in with the Flodders. With the ‘tokkie’ menace rising in the neighborhood, Colonel Kruisman sets up a plan called ‘Operation Stanley’ to ethnically cleanse the poor degenerates from their high-class hood. Of course, the Flodders will not go down without a fight, or something resembling one. 

 When Grandpa Flodder is accidentally killed after getting a little too close to one of his beloved railroads, the Flodder family finds themselves rich after finding tons of money hidden in the old man’s toy trains, so they end up buying the fancy house they live in. Meanwhile, all the people in the neighborhood have a secret town meeting where they plot to rid themselves of the Flodder scum from their squeaky clean neighborhood, but when Johnny and Yolanda come by and reveal that they are engaged to be married, the bourgeois schemers find themselves in a precarious situation as ‘one of their own’ has decided to side with the enemy. Not one to make enemies or to hold a grudge, Johnny also invites all the neighbors to attend his engagement party and they all reluctantly decide to attend. Needless to say, the the Flodder family proves to be a bad influence on the mostly puritanical neighbors, who find themselves delighting in a sleazy cocktail of prole-approved sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. For instance, a group of men including underage teens and effete 60+-year-old men, line up at a door to take turns screwing sister Kees, whose little brother Henkie acts as her pimp and takes money from the horny men at the door. The Flodder hound Whisky also has fun at the party by eating one of the neighbor's cutesy ankle-biters. In the end, virtually every single neighbor gets high, drunk, and/or fucked. As for Colonel Kruisman, he is not too happy about his wife leaving him for a gutter-bred low-life, so he gets good and drunk and decides to destroy the Flodder house with a tank that he has stolen from his military base. While the Colonel blows up the Flodder home and thus ends their hyper hedonistic hick party in the process, the family takes the tragedy in good humor as proud poor people who have learned to live in chaos and destruction. 

 Unquestionably, I would like to see a remake of Flodder featuring a Moroccan Islamist family moving into an upperclass neighborhood full of idealistic and politically incorrect white liberals who, instead of rejecting their new neighbors like in the original film, attempt to embrace them and ultimately receive a rude awakening that tests their phony humanistic faith. Unfortunately, both the sequels Flodder in Amerika! (1992) aka Flodder Does Manhattan! and Flodder Forever (1995) aka Flodder 3, as well as the long-running Flodder series(1993-1998), are not much more than retarded cliche-ridden recyclings of the raunchy ideas, tropes, jokes, and chase scenes of the original film, thus reflecting ‘auteur’ Dick Maas’ deep-seated desire to sell out as a sort of Dutch John Carpenter, albeit more degenerate and boob-obsessed. Rather curiously, Maas’ hit cult comedy was one of the sixteen films added to the prestigious Canon of Dutch Cinema (aka ‘Canon van de Nederlandse Film’). Indeed, Flodder was selected as one of the sixteen most monumental Dutch films of all time in a list that includes classic, experimental, avant-garde, and arthouse works, including the ancient silent slapstick short The Misadventure of a French Gentleman Without Pants at the Zandvoort Beach (1905) co-directed by Willy Mullens and Alberts Frères, the celluloid ‘city symphony’ Regen (1929) aka Rain co-directed by Mannus Franken and commie propagandist Joris Ivens, the Willem Frederik Hermans adaptation Als twee druppels water (1963) aka Like Two Drops of Water directed by Fons Rademakers, Blind Kind (1964) directed by master documentarian Johan van der Keuken, the gorgeously grotesque short Living (1971) directed by Frans Zwartjes, Turks fruit (1973) aka Turkish Delight directed by Paul Verhoeven, and De Noorderlingen (1992) aka The Northerners directed by Alex van Warmerdam. Artistically speaking, The Northerners (which, incidentally, was produced by Maas) is the alpha and Flodder is the omega in terms of Dutch celluloid comedies, though I can almost see why the latter was included in the Canon of Dutch Cinema as it represents post-WWII Holland at its most obscenely deracinated and Americanized, which is important when attempting to understand the deleterious effects of yank hegemony, as well as the preposterous Dutch welfare state.

-Ty E

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Ty E,
Great to see you talk about Dutch movies! I've made a little list of Dutch films that are worth your time:

. De witte waan (Adriaan Ditvoorst)
. Wilde mossels (Erik de Bruyn)
. De wederopstanding van een klootzak (Guido van Driel)
. Vergeef me (Cyrus Frisch)
. Jezus is een palestijn (Lodewijk
. Amnesia (Martin Koolhoven)
. Borgman (Alex van Warmerdam)

I think you can find most of them
on private trackers with english subs..
Dutch cinema is not dead yet!
Take care, and keep the reviews coming..
John (Netherlands)