One of the staples of Hollywood films are comedies involving neurotic Jewish families. Keeping Up with the Steins, and the lesser-seen When Do We Eat? are two very recent examples. Only Human trumps both, only because it manages to insert some weighty issues into the standard insane family formula. Writer/directors Dominic Harari and Teresa Pelegri (The Dutchman's Island, No Shame) throw in the normal stable of wacky characters and a confined space, then add a Palestinian boyfriend and take out some of the sappy resolutions that the other two films have, then adding in a dash of Meet the Parents. Only Human takes place in Spain, which may explain why there is more substance and less fluff or stupid comedy. The comedy that is here borders on farce.
The cast is large, and as expected, each person has his/her own quirk. Gloria Dali (Norma Aleandro, Cleopatra, Son of the Bride) is the slightly neurotic mother. Her husband Ernesto (Mario Martin, The Archimedes Principal, Mine Alone) is working late every night. Some people think he may be having an affair. Their son David Dalinski (Fernando Ramallo, April and Jules, Nico and Dani) is newly devout, and makes all sorts of demands on thing they cannot do on the Sabbath. Their daughter Tania (Maria Botto, Los Abajo Firmantes, Carmen) is a belly dancer who constantly brings different men home to sleep with. Her daughter Paula (Alba Molinero) wears a pillow under her shirt and thinks she is pregnant. Paula's hawkish great-grandfather Dudu (Max Berliner, Condor Crux, Yepeto) is blind, nearly deaf, and constantly totes around a gun from World War II. Yes, it is a powder keg waiting to explode, and Leni (Marian Aguilera, The Reckoning, You Shouldn't Be Here), blissfully ignorant, brings her fiance Rafi (Guillermo Toledo, El Crimen Perfecto, Voices in the Night). Oh, and there's a pet duck too.
Here's the rub - Rafi is Palestinian. Leni has not revealed this small fact. Her family knows that he has an Israeli passport, and of course, assume that he is a good Israeli boy. The initial meeting goes well, and Rafi, who has a penchant for sweating profusely, ad libs his way into the good graces of Gloria. He tells her he's from Israel, even though there aren't many Jews from his area, which is technically true. As soon as Leni spills the beans to her mother, Gloria becomes flabbergasted. Meanwhile, Rafi dropped a frozen block of soup out the window and hit somebody on the head, probably killing him. This man may or may not be Ernesto. As the family dynamic slowly begins to crumble, Rafi and Leni' relationship begins to strain. Before, politics never mattered between them, but clearly if the Dalis are going to react like they are, then something is going wrong. The identity of the potentially dead man soon eclipses all else, and the comedy turns screwball. Underlying the insecure/nervous parents are real differences of race and identity. Can the Dali's trust Rafi? He seems like a nice guy, but his "people" tend to kill Jews. The tone still manages to stay light, although the comedy does wear a bit thin at times. There is nothing unexpected that happens at any point in time, and anyone who has seen any of these type of movies before knows what to expect.
|Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.|
|1 hour, 25 minutes, Spanish with English subtitles, Rated R for some sexual content, nudity, and language.|
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