Only Human

Inevitable comparisons to Pedro Almodovar's domestic farces notwithstanding, Dominic Harari and Teresa Pelegri's family comedy is at heart a sitcom that leaves no cliche unturned while chronicling the foibles of the Jewish Dali family of Barcelona. Control-freak Leni (Marian Aguilera), a successful TV personality, is worried about bringing home her new boyfriend,...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Inevitable comparisons to Pedro Almodovar's domestic farces notwithstanding, Dominic Harari and Teresa Pelegri's family comedy is at heart a sitcom that leaves no cliche unturned while chronicling the foibles of the Jewish Dali family of Barcelona. Control-freak Leni (Marian Aguilera), a successful TV personality, is worried about bringing home her new boyfriend, college professor Rafi (Guillermo Toledo), to meet her family at their handsome middle-class apartment complex. Her foremost concern: she's allowed them to assume he's Jewish because he carries an Israeli passport, when in fact he's Palestinian. Though the Dalis are Spanish born and thoroughly assimilated — they don't keep kosher or observe the Sabbath and changed their name from Dalenski — a potential Palestinian son-in-law is a little more than some of them are comfortable with, and there's plenty of existing familial strife for Rafi's presence to exacerbate. Matriarch Gloria (Norma Aleandro) is chugging anti-depressants, and it's hard to blame her: The fire is long gone from her marriage and her husband, Ernesto (Mario Martin), is never home — though whether he's working late to make up for having been demoted or having an affair is up for debate. Promiscuous, unhappy younger daughter Tania (Maria Botto) is a freelance belly dancer who persists in pretending she's pregnant, and who doesn't earn enough to move out on her own with her tantrum-prone 6-year-old, Paula (Alba Molinero). College-age David (Fernando Ramallo) failed his college-entrance exams and turned to orthodoxy and Marxism; he won't be happy until the rest of his family embraces strict religious mores and denounces bourgeois yuppies, like the ones he saw callously injure a duckling in the park, one which is now recuperating in the family bidet. And blind grandpa Duda (Max Berliner), a concentration-camp survivor, is always happy to demonstrate that he learned to load a rifle without looking while serving in the Israeli army. All this before Rafi accidentally drops a frozen block of soup from the kitchen window and strikes a passerby, who may be dead and may also be the absent Ernesto. There's nothing subtle about Pelegri and Harari's culture-clash romp, but it's sometimes frantically funny; that it's thoroughly forgettable is an issue only if you expect it to do more than poke easy fun at the thorny issues it raises.

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  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Inevitable comparisons to Pedro Almodovar's domestic farces notwithstanding, Dominic Harari and Teresa Pelegri's family comedy is at heart a sitcom that leaves no cliche unturned while chronicling the foibles of the Jewish Dali family of Barcelona. Control… (more)

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