To paraphrase the leading actress of the movie, "You know that yawning thing that happens when you watch a really boring film? That happened." A lot.
Like a sociopathic child dragging it's torn and half eaten teddy, I too was dragged along to see this movie by my significant other, whose depiction of the film was roughly of "a struggle for acceptance by an interracial couple in the west." Unfortunately, this film was only barely that.
Yes, he is Pakistani. Yes, he is in a not-so-hot interracial relationship. Yes, he seems to be rebelling against the stereotypical beard wearing, head bobbing, rice eating, Urdu speaking family he appears to be a member of, but the depiction seem to stop there.
Firstly, the acting, like watching Bruce Forsyth perv on the dancing on ice girls, was just barely tolerable through all the cringe worthiness and specifically the casting of Zoe Kazan was just plain wrong. I really didn't enjoy watching her; she can barely deliver dialogue, she looked awkward and gaunt the whole time (even when she was well) and there was no chemistry on screen with either Kumail or her on-screen parents. The argumentative scenes were poorly dialogued and seemed too hyperbolic and forced and just showed what an awful actor she is.
Coming onto the story itself, it's basically a story of a Pakistani stand-up comedian whose white girlfriend falls sick, gets better and then everyone is happy - with very little of interest in between. The pathetic little in-depth exploration of cultural differences and intra-customary variations were only ever skid marks on the undies of revelation and portrayed as quippy stereotypes and cheap gags. For example *Pakistani accent* "why don't you grow a beard like your brother" and "oh, Mrs 'whoever' was just driving by and dropped in" (don't forget to roll the R's). Additionally, every brown character in the movie seemed to have a Pakistani accent despite them telling us some were USA born and bred - again this points to the forced and farcical nature of the approach to humour in the movie.
Furthermore, if you've read any of my previous reviews, you'll know I detest medical inconsistencies in movies. I'm sorry but one minute Emily has a chest infection (for which she would have received some anti-inflammatories at some point - I'll come onto why this is important in a minute) and the next minute she's so unwell she's materialised five jargon jabbering Jar Jar Binks style doctors and needs urgent surgery (for god knows what - she had no indication a second ago of empyema/pleural effusion etc and I'm sorry but I've not really heard of just cutting an infection out of someone's lung, even TB isn't managed like that these days!) Then hey presto, Dr House obviously came along and matched the swollen ankle tid-bit from earlier with her apparent "inconclusive biopsy" (again - Huh?) and came up with Adult Onset Still's Disease. Her condition then rapidly improved the minute they gave her some anti-inflammatories - which dare I say she would have got in the ER the minute she walked through the door for her apparent chest infection, so, none of this medical mumbo-jumbo would have happened anyway! Really, if they wanted me to care about her medical condition they should have focused and put some effort into getting the details accurate, because apparently it may actually have happened exactly like that, if this movie really was based on a true story.
However, regardless if the medicine was accurate or depicted well, like an impending meteor the rubbish that ensued whilst Emily was unconscious had already sealed this movie's fate. An obligatory 9-11 related scene could never go amiss here, the bombing out on stage (excuse the pun), the pointless screaming at a PA system over 4 slices of cheese and the overall boring conversations just left me feeling sleepy. I have no idea why the story then suddenly waffled on about Emily's parent's marital issues - what on earth did that have to do with the price of chips?
Overall, this movie picked a great topic to explore but failed miserably at exploring it. The focus here should have been on delving into Pakistani culture, how the second generation are adapting it into Western Culture and how both generations are dealing with this paradigm shift. This should have been a film about Kumail's and Emily's parents bonding and accepting each other's cultures through the eyes of their children, especially as Emily battles for her life. This could have been a movie about the younger American-Indian/Pakistani/whatever generation teaching the older generations of their identity struggle, how they strive to fit into both worlds and how the older generation need to change to be more accepting of this brave new world. Yet, instead this was a film about cheesy quips, borderline racist stereotypes and just the usual white people issues and pointless yelling, boiling down to just being another boring chick-flick type romance movie with some basic comedic moments.
Watch Bend It Like Beckham, East is East, Marigold Hotel or even Bride and Prejudice *sigh* if you expect more exploration of cultural differences. This is barely watchable. 6/10 as the funny bits are funny.
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