Together with his parents, Miklós Fenyö (aka Miki) just returned to his homeland, a communist Hungary in the mid-60s, after four years living in the United States. Miki is obsessed with rock n’ roll, and finds himself unable to live within the constraints of the country, not being able to play all the glorious Jerry Lee Lewis-inspired numbers on the piano without getting into trouble with the authorities or another. His father pleads him to get rid of the Hawaiian t-shirt (“provocative”, he says) and just blend in. Four years before, they left the country for a reason—which leaves Miki’s father as an outcast. Desperately trying to get into the good graces of the country’s officials and get hired once more, his father disapproves any rebellious act that Miki tries.
Miki has also become quite an outcast himself. With his flawless English pronunciation and his perfectly made quiff (not to mention his height), he seems to always stand out. His old bandmates, whom he left four years before, now have a new leader in Röné Csipu, a tough local thud who sings government-approved rock n’ roll and steals jewelry from old ladies on the side. It seems like not only his old bandmates have moved on, but also his old fling, Vera. With her letters never replied for four years, now Vera is cold and distant towards Miki. He doesn’t despair, though. “I just want to make music and fall in love,” he says.
There is also Arpad Bigali, a comrade who is supposed to keep an eye on Miki and yet also has his own secret agenda, which is exploiting Miki’s talents to help his own son win the biggest local talent show. Bigali brings on four girls from East Germany to join his son’s band, expecting them all to rehearse and later perform a communist-friendly number on the TV show. But of course, nothing works like Bigali wishes.
Inspired by the early career of Hungarian rocker Miklos Fenyó, Made in Hungary is filled with music, which I was aware about prior to watching it, but I wasn’t aware that this is actually a musical. In fact, Made in Hungary has been running as a stage musical for seven years before it was eventually made into a movie. A few minutes into the movie we are treated with a big rock n’ roll number performed by Miki, with all the teenage crowd suddenly bursting into a choreographed dance, Glee-style. Obviously, there will be more of this to come.
Made in Hungary is fun, that’s for sure. It can be hilarious and it sure draws out a lot of laugh. The music is fun and contagious, even if rock n’ roll isn’t your cup of tea, you’re sure to move to some of the tunes. Miki’s parents are instantly likeable characters, his mother a warm character while his father’s stiffness is bound to bring some laughter. Tamás Szabó Kimmel, who plays Miki, is okay-looking at first but grows into a total heartthrob as the movie goes on.
However, despite all the fun, it is definitely one messy movie. So many things are going on, and the story seems to hop from one arc to another in a very disturbing, unnatural flow. It makes you wonder where the movie is actually going, which part of the story is going to be the climax. The latter is probably easily guessed, but because of the whole mess, it’s not hard for one to begin questioning that. Adapting a musical theatre into the silver screen is never an easy task, and maybe this one suffers because of it. Nevertheless, it’s still a fun picture, especially for those who enjoy rock n’ roll.