March 29, 2012

Justify My Netflix: Today's Special

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

Today's Special

Today's movie: Today's Special, 2009 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because it was written by and stars Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi, adapted from his own Obie-award-winning play a few years ago; that's pretty much all the reason I needed to add this to my queue at Netflix, when it finally became available there for the first time about a month ago.

The reality: The feel-good hit of the year! Because to be clear, this is not exactly subversive cinema we're talking about, despite coming from one of the wickedest of the Daily Show writers; it's instead a very typical second-generation-immigrant family story, about an aging Indian couple who run one of those generic-looking rundown restaurants full of plastic furniture that you see on every other block in a big city, and how their celebrity-chef-wannabe slacker son is forced to take over after a medical emergency waylays his father, the resulting developments playing out in a highly guessable by-the-book manner. But I'll tell you, for a film that sticks to the usual conventions of the "My Big Fat Fill In The Blank Ethnic Family Comedy That Happens To Be Fetishistically Obsessed With Food," it's done exquisitely, a movie that made me both laugh out loud and cry out loud several times, despite being able to easily predict what each and every next scene was going to feature; and that's because, every time he is faced with yet another trope that all these movies seem to contain, Mandvi chooses the funniest or most brilliant aspect of that trope possible, a script that feels as familiar as an old broken-in pair of jeans but that will still fill you with joy and laughter. The rare film that snotty young intellectuals can watch with their suburban parents and have everyone still really enjoy it, it comes recommended in that specific spirit, a mainstream comedy that is nonetheless incredibly sharp and smart, and that wonderfully basks in the details of the Indian-American immigrant experience.

Strangest piece of trivia: The actor who plays the mysterious cab-driving cook who saves the day, Naseeruddin Shah, is one of the most revered veterans of the entire Indian film industry.

Worth your time? Yes, as long as you realize beforehand that it's a little cheesy

Filed by Jason Pettus at 2:33 PM, March 29, 2012. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |