Only Human (2006)

Click Poster to Purchase

Get Showtimes...
Fandango - Movie Tickets Online

Review #225 of 365
Film: Only Human (2006) [R] 85 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $12.50
Spanish Title: Seres queridos
Where Viewed: Landmark Chez Artiste, Denver, CO
When 1st Seen: 24 August 2006
Time: 9:20 p.m.


Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
After a dreary film the day before, Factotum, I was not looking forward to going to the movies at all yesterday. Which may account, all the more, for why I was not only pleasantly surprised but down right delighted by the Spanish film, Only Human (Seres queridos). This wonderful and hilarious film (available on DVD from below) was released in the USA first in mid-June and is making the rounds on the big screens in independent movie houses and Landmark Theatres across the nation.

Whenever I find a movie from overseas hilarious, it reminds me that human beings the world over, regardless of religious, cultural, or ethnic background share a sense of humor. Still to this day, scientists cannot explain why human beings find things funny, why 'funniness' would evolve in us, nor the purpose or source of laughter. Does it serve a biological function? Some have conjectured that laughter is the best medicine, that it reduces stress, and helps our immune system function. It is a strange thing to have evolved in us, but thank goodness it did. Well, if you have either just seen Factotum or had a long week at the office, and you are looking for something to cheer you up that is side-splittingly funny but in a more cerebral, situational comedy, Edward Albee's "The American Dream" meets Larry David's "Seinfeld" sort of way, then see if you can track down Only Human, because you will adore it. I admit that I loved Talladega Nights, and that it is one of the funniest overall movies in a decade. Only Human is not in quite the same league. However, there were three or four times when I absolutely burst out laughing so hard during this movie as to completely annoy the only other person sitting in the theatre—to whom now I publicly apologize for disrupting their peaceful experience. But, I couldn't help it.

"…a brilliant situational comedic film that works incredibly well."
Here are the basics of this Dominic Harari / Teresa Pelegri co-written, co-directed film. Leni Dali (Marián Aguilera) is an early 30s, Spanish, Jewish woman who returns to her home city with her Muslim, Palestinian boyfriend Rafi (Guillermo Toledo) to have dinner with and meet her family: mother, Gloria (Norma Aleandro); wild and crazy, belly-dancing sister, Tania (María Botto); suddenly deciding to become orthodox younger brother, David (Fernando Ramallo); blind, deaf in one ear, 85-year old grandfather, Dudu (Max Berliner), and curiously missing, might be having an affair father, Ernesto (Mario Martín). Of course, Rafi is nervous about meeting the family and doubly so for he doubts Leni's assurances that they will be as accepting of his religion and his ethnic heritage as is she. Likewise, knowing that her family is full of characters, Leni worries that they will run Rafi off before they even get to really know each other. The evening gets off to a fine start when Leni's mother is first told of Rafi's religious background and falls into a state of shock. To calm her, she sends Rafi off to defrost the soup and stays to comfort her mother. Minutes later and under the watchful eye of Tania's daughter, Paula, while joking around to amuse her and trying to get the cube of soup from the container into the pot to defrost, Rafi accidentally drops the 5 lb. block of soup out the kitchen window of the 15th-story apartment. He does not realize until he runs around the corner of the building, after making excuses to Dudu and David about needing to leave to put money in the parking meter, that the falling soup has struck a man below in the head knocking him conscious and possibly killing him. And thus begins an evening of subterfuge, misdirection, lies, and antics all centering around keeping the Dani's from learning the truth about the soup—which, by the way, once rescued, thawed, and served, poor Rafi has a terrible time trying to eat.

This gives you but a taste of the intricate comedy that unfolds in this single evening where everything and anything can and will happen, from David using Dudu's military rifle to shoot a hole in the ceiling of the apartment below to Rafi and Tania belly dancing on the conference table at Ernesto's office—really long story. Just trust me, this movie is a riot. Moreover, the performance by Norma Aleandro as Leni's mother is out of this world. She has the look and comedic timing of Suzanne Pleshette with a bit of Doris Roberts's Marie Barone from "Everybody Loves Raymond" mixed in. She loves her children, but sometimes she wishes they'd never been born, or so she tells them. She has constant anxiety about not having made love since the conception of their now nearly adult son. She loves her daughters and wants them happily married, but she doesn't really want to lose completely. She is quite nearly the perfect neurotic mom.

Only Human is a brilliant situational comedic film that works incredibly well. The characters are quirky yet real not stereotypes or archetypes; and, yet, every person who watches the film will likely see shades of his or her own family on the screen. This film was a lot of fun and proves that intelligent comedy can be appreciated from all over the globe.

Related Products from
Other Projects Featuring: Guillermo ToledoMarián Aguilera
María BottoFernando RamalloNorma Aleandro
Max BerlinerMario Martín

Only Human (2006) Review-lite [150-word cap]
Imagine a side-splittingly funny, Edward Albee's "The American Dream" meets Larry David's "Seinfeld" comedy, and you conjure the Dominic Harari / Teresa Pelegri Spanish film, Only Human (Seres queridos). Leni Dali (Marián Aguilera) plays an early 30s, Spanish, Jewish woman who returns home with her Muslim, Palestinian boyfriend Rafi (Guillermo Toledo) to meet her family. She worries they will run him off before his worry about their differences in religious and ethnic backgrounds even come up. Worse, a mishap with a 5-lb. block of frozen soup Rafi was supposed to thaw but, instead, accidentally dropped out the window of their 15th-story apartment onto a passerby below becomes the source of the film's most hilarious moments. The characters are quirky; and, yet, everyone will see shades of his or her own family on the screen. Only Human is wonderfully amusing proving that intelligent comedy can be appreciated the world over.

No comments: