Unwatchable #21: “Keloglan vs. the Black Prince”Posted: June 1, 2012
One thing we haven’t touched on much throughout this dangerous experiment is the role that cultural differences can play in the evaluation of an Unwatchable. Take today’s subject, Keloglan kara prens’e karsi, for example. It’s a Turkish comedy about fairy tale characters, modeled roughly on the zany, anything-goes Zucker-Abrams-Zucker (or, in Unwatchable terms, Friedberg-Seltzer) style. I’m reasonably certain it’s the first Turkish comedy I’ve ever seen. I have no way of knowing how it compares to other Turkish comedies, or what sorts of things the Turkish people consider funny, and I have no frame of reference for any of the Turkish cultural content. I assume the people who voted this film into the Bottom 100 were primarily Turkish, as it doesn’t seem this movie had much of a life outside its home country. (It apparently got a release in the Netherlands, but that’s about it.)
I’m sure this is a great failing on my part, but all I can do is evaluate Keloglan kara prens’e karsi on my own terms. That being the case, I have to say that it’s not really all that terrible. At its best, it’s mildly amusing, and at its worst, it’s still not as bad as Epic Movie or Meet the Spartans. Mehmet Ali Erbil (Turks in Space, The Class of Chaos Goes Abroad) stars as Keloglan, who, Wikipedia informs me, is a fictional character in Turkish culture. His name roughly translates as “bald boy,” although when we meet him, Keloglan has flowing blonde tresses. He loses his cherished hair while battling a dragon in hopes of winning the hand of the princess. (It’s worth noting that the CGI effects in this sequence, while not terribly convincing, are an improvement on those found in your average SyFy creature feature.) Once he’s bald, the princess loses all interest in him. Worse, he has a rival for her affections in the Black Prince (Özcan Deniz, who I gather is quite the Turkish heartthrob.) The king tasks both men with completing a series of challenges in order to win his daughter’s hand.
What follows is a fractured fairy tale featuring guest appearances by Robin Hood and his Merry Men, Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, and some guy with colorful robes, a big beard, and a Devo hat, who tries to make yogurt by throwing yeast into a lake. (Again, the cultural difference arise. Is this a beloved Turkish character performing a side-splitting shtick? Or do the Turkish people not know why this is supposed to be funny either?) Writer-director Tayfun Guneyer relies heavily on the anachronism-based humor the Friedberg-Seltzer team pilfered from Mel Brooks and others; Robin Hood and his band do a Riverdance, Keloglan uses a fire extinguisher to put out the dragon’s fiery breath, and so on. It’s not the cutting edge of humor by any means, but Guneyer goes light on the gross-out humor, and I can see kids getting some laughs out of this thing. There’s a sweet little romantic subplot in which a peasant girl in love with Keloglan disguises herself with a mustache in order to get close to him. The whole thing ends with the cast breaking into a Turkish version of “I Will Survive.” In short, it’s not particularly unwatchable. I’ve seen worse, but as for the film’s reception in its home country, that’s nobody’s business but the Turks.
Previously on Unwatchable: