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Ted, a stuffy white guy from Illinois working in sales for the Barcelona office of a US corporation, is paid an unexpected visit by his somewhat less stuffy cousin Fred, who is an officer in the US Navy. Over the next few months, both their lives are irrevocably altered by the events which follow Fred's arrival, events which are the trivial stuff of a comedy of manners at first but which gradually grow increasingly dramatic. Written by
Tim Horrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Director Cameo: Whit Stilman on the dance floor at the disco club along with cinematographer John Thomas and a few of the camera crew in the opening shot as dancing extras during the dance number 'You've Got What It Takes' just before Ted and Montserrat arrive. Stillman is the one on the extreme left looking into a teleprompter just off-camera (identifiable from the shining white light from the teleprompter screen). See more »
When Fred and Ted are driving through Barcelona early in the film, Ted's driving barely matches the direction the car is moving. See more »
I couldn't believe Fred would just show up like that. On the other hand, it was absolutely typical.
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This very unusual movie exudes such charm and creates a great well of sympathy for its anxious and innocent central characters.
They find themselves throughout in worlds they find alien - a world of puerile anti-Americanism, of foreign women, and either commercial sales or the Navy ("well, you were ROTC, weren't you?" said disparagingly to a former bond trader now Navy officer).
The movie is very funny, the main American characters very likeable, naive, impressionable and voluble, the Spanish male character and several of the Spanish female characters, enjoyably detestable in every way.
There were two things I particularly enjoyed. First, every American who has lived in Europe for any period of time will find the movie rings all kinds of bells of memory - the woeful ignorance but insufferable patronizing tone of Europeans discoursing on American history and politics (e.g., the whole discourse on the "terrible union AFL-CIA that subverted democratic movements in Europe" is a hoot). Many young Europeans have exhibited since the War such an astonishing combination of ignorance, facile categorization and jealousy toward American life, history and policy that the American finds himself suddenly overwhelmed by both uninformed European prejudice and an astonishing unwillingness to be educated about a country that Americans obviously know far better than the lecturers. This movie is almost a tribute to that suffering.
Second, this movie is a nice antidote to the usual pedestal-placing of women, particularly foreign women, as the pawns of men. In this, the women are FAR more predatory and exhibit a deceit that is commonplace in most movies about male wolfishness. It's nice to see the tables turned.
The movie is also quite good on the relationship between two young Chicago men - and the way in which their lives as children affect their continuing view of each other - and how that changes.
The movie is off-beat, and has a peculiar pace. Do pay attention because there are about 5 female characters who are easy to confuse. Do see it- you'll enjoy it. (Oh, and in contradiction to the reviewer below, I think it quite normal, though funny, for a man to happen to speak - even though still in bed - to a girlfriend about his worry that he may be shaving the wrong way).
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