- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 17, 2001

''Enlightenment Guaranteed," a German import booked at the Visions Cinema, Bistro and Lounge, is short on edification but long on monotony — suggesting that the title might be a slight mistranslation.

Humorist Doris Dorrie, who enjoyed a modest art-house vogue in the late 1980s with "Men," the account of a ludicrous menage a trois, fails to sustain a picaresque odd couple pretext in "Guaranteed."

In the film, German brothers travel to Japan to get lost for a time in Tokyo and then are shelved for a rather longer time at a Buddhist monastery.

The trip is in the nature of a dream excursion for Gustav, played by Gustav Peter Wohler. Gustav makes a living advising clients on how to revamp their abodes in accord with feng shui principles of harmony and wisdom. At the last moment, his brother Uwe, a kitchen fixtures salesman played by Uwe Ochsenknecht, the Kelsey Grammer-look-alike who was one of the leads in "Men," pleads to go along.

Uwe returns from the store one day to find that his wife, fed up with his officiousness, has vanished and taken the children with her, to quarters unknown. So it's Japan therapy for Uwe.

Miss Dorrie's amateurism is underlined by the use of digital video footage. Indeed, her inability to distinguish footage from scenes or episodes makes it easy to confuse the movie with rehearsals, false starts and random sightseeing documentation. A viewer is still waiting for the movie to start, when suddenly it's over.

Throwaway observations seem more amusing and diverting than the material that probably was planned: the proliferation of cell phone users on crowded Tokyo streets, nightscapes that teem with neon signs and a prodigious sense of commercial activity and illumination.

Uwe and Gustav have difficulty finding their hotel, lose their passports and credit cards, and get separated. They end up stealing a tent from a department store and become Tokyo nomads. One of the rare funny moments occurs when a young German woman takes pity on Uwe as she finds him singing "I Will Survive" on the street.

The anticlimactic monastery sojourn adds an element of silence to the film's prevailing dullness.

"What am I doing here in Japan?" asks one of the characters rhetorically. The movie never offers an adequate answer. I would venture to say that "Enlightenment Guaranteed" is as funny as watching floor polish dry.{*}TITLE: "Enlightenment Guaranteed"RATING: No MPAA rating (adult subject matter — fleeting comic and sexual vulgarity)CREDITS: Written and directed by Doris Dorrie. Story consultant: Ruth Stadler. Photography by Hans Karl Hu. In German with English subtitles. Occasional Japanese dialogue, not necessarily titledRUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

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