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OLD RECIPE MADE ENDEARING BY A COUPLE OF NEW SPICES
on 12 October 2005
This warm little film that bills itself as a comedy has very little new to offer, from a fun on-screen homage to Cary Grant (with Kyle Mclachlan playing his perky spirit) to some rattletrap humour about non-resident Indians. Yet, it's like that favourite dish your mom prepares when you head home for the summer - not a highfalutin recipe, but its loving predictability is the very reason you love it.
Several of the plot's turns and twists may seem contrived, laboring away at pat stereotypes one hopes Hollywood will quickly outgrow. Jimi Mistry plays Alim, a culturally divorced and thus conflicted South Asian slash Canadian expat living in London with his boyfriend (Kristen Holden-Reid). The pair are a jovial young couple but Alim is uptight and lives a life of carefully partitioned half-truths, having not come out to his family, which his partner knows. The crux is rooted in how Alim copes with his disconnection, his prospective arranged marriage, and so forth.
For what it is worth, Mistry's rendition of a homophile without resorting to annoying effeminate gestures is quite convincing. His British mate provides a bulk of the film's genuinely funny moments. The cardboard-cutout traditional Indian mother seems like she had her hair colored white for the role, which incidentally could be the only plausible explanation for her to undergo the dramatic transformation that she does. If only more Indian conservative types could be wrangled so.
Despite its calculated proprieties, when everyone collides in a Toronto wedding where the film's final wrinkle is unveiled, I would concede it works overall. It's a good one-time watch, perhaps a decent rental for a discerning evening. If you enjoy this film may I also suggest Ang Lee's "The Wedding Banquet" which does a generally better job in a similar vein.