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Friday, August 4, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

Old story gets Spanish twist

Good heavens. A comedy about the conflict between Muslims and Jews? It's hard to imagine in these troubled times, but that's the basis of the playful farce "Only Human," which sustains an arch sense of humor typical of the best Spanish cinema.

The guess-who's-coming-to-dinner theme is re-trodden with a fresh dose of style and a story that stumbles gracefully forward when a young Jewish woman from upscale Madrid brings home her Palestinian fiancé to meet the parents.

Movie review 3 stars


Showtimes and trailer

"Only Human," with Guillermo Toledo, Marián Aguilera, María Botto, Fernando Ramallo, Norma Aleandro, Alba Molinero, Max Berliner, Mario Martín. Written and directed by Dominic Harari and Teresa Pelegri. 85 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles. Not rated; suitable for mature audiences. Harvard Exit.

As the evening unfolds, the crazy-in-love odd couple create highbrow and lowbrow antics amongst a fine cast that includes a harried Jewish mother, blind-and-batty grandfather, ultra-Orthodox younger brother, nymphomaniac sister with an adorable 6-year-old child and a missing father who may have been knocked dead by a wayward block of frozen soup.

There's a political and social clash at its core, but the laughter comes from a deeper, human place (see title). The family squabbling rarely wears thin thanks to a deft touch from husband-and-wife writer/directors Dominic Harari and Teresa Pelegri.

They manipulate the proceedings with a disarming visual wit and clever wordless gags that stay just this side of slapstick. When's the last time you let loose an involuntary guffaw at a bandaged duckling trapped in a bidet?

Almodóvar it ain't, but the comic situations are a welcome relief from comparable Hollywood fare and lighten a dark place in the world.

— Ted Fry, Special to the Seattle Times

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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