“Enlightenment Guaranteed” is a poor exercise in spiritually purging oneself. Nothing more than a solid block of lame entertainment, the question that kept coming to mind was, why are we even here? Writer/director Doris Dörrie seems to have no specific place in mind when the take-off begins, and still once the movie has ended, any purpose that the trip served appears to have eluded her as well as us.A piss-poor digital video-to-film transfer concentrates on two highly vexatious and unalike German brothers who understandably are disliked for their obvious reasons. The harried, but jerky husband is put at wit’s end by his children (in a certain claustrophobia similar to the car scenes in “With a Friend Like Harry”), but his maladroit treatment to them and his wife causes her to take off with the kids. A slavering mess, he dumps himself on his spiritual brother whose been hiding his real sexuality (until the end of the movie — the only real development to occur in the entirety of the movie). Tagging along to a trip to Tokyo and a Japanese monastery, first they get lost from the hotel, and then from each other. (One humorous scene has one of the brothers singing “I Will Survive” in the subway for change.) Finally when reunited, the spiritual brother cannot handle the discipline of the monastery, while the other enters it with ease, and they both go through personality adjustments.
Any time that you are faced with characters that are intolerable, it’s going to be a rough ride sitting through 105-minutes of them. Aside from the terribly annoying fronts they are assigned, there’s nothing much else to the characters that are actually illustrated through them. Dörrie uses an unforgivable gimmick of them taking along a digital camera that they use like a diary, so as we can become privy to their inner-thoughts without it actually being shown. It’s a cheat, it’s skimping out on story and progress that should be shown to us, not spoken to us. Forget that while they’ve lost all their belongings at this hotel, how is it that they have an unending source of batteries and tape? They didn’t have a charger with them, they didn’t have multiple tapes. Dörrie uses logic as an extra-topping on the pie that doesn’t come covered in the original price, so she gyps us. She gyps herself; the whole experience feels bankrupt because of that. The sense that “Enlightenment Guaranteed” gives is an artificial one, and the whole act of these grown men behaving like babies leaves you with an uninspired and sour feeling afterwards. The most appealing and dinkum character in the entire shenanigan is Anica Dobra as an expatriate from Germany who helps the brothers out. Her short-lived screen-time is the biggest and most unforgivable sin committed.
With Gustav Peter Wöhler, Uwe Ochsenknecht and Petra Zieser.