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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>
Barecelona is a vastly underrated movie that achieved little success outside of art-house theatres on its release. This is a shame because the movie is both intelligent, funny and has broad appeal.
It concerns the adventures of two Americans who find themselves in Barcelona in the early Eighties at the height of the cold war. Ted is an uptight and repressed businessman while Fred is his airforce cousin who's a great deal more relaxed. The film starts with Fred forcing himself on his reluctant cousin's hospitality having just arrived in Barcelona.
Yet this isn't a buddy movie. In fact, it's very hard to classify and is by no means typical of an American movie. It's far more European in style.
The movie is about clashes of cultures and it's here that the humour is generated. Fred and Ted's differing attitudes and intelligence levels rub up against each other, and the old debate about the differences between male and female outlooks get a look in too. But the largest culture clash is that of urban left-wing Northern Spain versus the naturally conservative and bullish Americanism. This sounds heavy and intellectual but it isn't - the film makes fun of the American culture of living according self-help guides, for example, but also makes fun of a Spanish journalist-cum-philosopher who turns out to be equally shallow.
The strongest elements of the movie are the script, which is as tight as any top-notch sitcom, and also the cast. There are some excellent performances all around from some very strong actors. Fans or Mira Sorvino won't get to see a great deal of her, however, as she has a relatively minor supporting role.
The film is effectively a celebration of Barcelona and also of the situations that arise when different cultures meet. This might make it hard for some Americans to warm to but, ironically, that merely underlines the movie's main theme - that the world is bigger than the American continent and infinitely wider in its cultural scope.
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