Directed by Mira Nair ("Mississippi Masala").
Written by Sabrina Dhawan.
Starring Naseeruddin Shah, Lillette Dubay and Vijay Raaz.
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 3/25/02
So, after catching back-to-back bloody
sci-fi action films, I figured
"Damn, you know what I need to see? A
Indian combination of 'Soul Food' and 'Father of the Bride' to ease
In an amazing stroke of luck, "Monsoon
Wedding" just opened up here in San Francisco! Can you believe it?
Maybe you can't, but you can believe this:
"Monsoon Wedding" is the best 2002 release I've seen this year. In
Delhi, an arranged marriage between two seemingly mismatched people
is about to take place over a four-day weekend. All manner of
family members from the two factions are in town for the event; in
no particular order, sex-crazed teens, ugly ducklings, "that" uncle
on your dad's side, the overbearing father, the doting mother...you
get the idea. An adopted member of the bride's family has something
brewing that comes out in Act III, but in the meantime, you've got
plenty of subplots to sit back and enjoy.
And, that is the great part of any ensemble
picture like this--try not to keep up with everything going on so
much as just enjoying the scenes that are currently being played out
in front of you. This worked masterfully in
"Gosford Park", and it
works just as well here, as director Mira Nair weaves a dozen people
throughout the four days leading up to the wedding day. A film that
is very funny early on and turns into a great drama later, "Monsoon
Wedding" kept my attention throughout, which I didn't think it was
going to do. Nair draws you in by combining familiar elements to
wedding films (parents saddened by the loss of "their little girl",
cute kids, wedding planners taking care of those last-minute
arrangements) with lots of affluent Indian culture. Affluence is
key here, because it allows Nair to have her intelligent characters
speak mostly English throughout the film; otherwise, I think I would
have been a bit more bored reading subtitles, the number one recipe
for sleeping in a theater. Also, it allows for more traditional
song scenes and dance sequences, which make the film lively in its
I loved the characters and in this kind of
environment, where the story isn't too original, that was key for
me. When it all comes to an end, you kind of wish that you could be
a part of their lives for just a little bit longer. The best
character of them all? That's easy--the wedding planner, PK Dubey
(Vijay Raaz). Why? You know, the guy is ugly as all get-outówith a
messed-up grill and a gangly middle-aged frame, he wouldn't be
confused with Brad Pitt any time soon. But, you just love him from
the start, with his goofy smile and clumsy behavior around the house
maid Alice (Tilotama Shome), you root for PK every time he is
on-screen. He'll never get nominated, but this is what you wish for
in an Oscar-worthy supporting performance--he's a scene-stealer
every time he appears, and he lives a lasting impression with you
long after the film is over.
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard