Directed by Danny Boyle.
Written by Simon Beaufoy.
Starring Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Irfan Khan and Frieda Pinto.
Release Year: 2008
Review Date: 10/23/08
For nearly its entire run, "Slumdog
Millionaire"--the new film from Danny Boyle, who made "Trainspotting",
Later" and "Sunshine"--is fun,
otherworldly entertainment for essentially the whole family.
Sure, its ending is, as my friend Saule put it, "too Indian", but "Slumdog
Millionaire" still keeps you happy through about 90% of the running
That's because Boyle gives us a fresh look
on same old/same old: two brothers are heading in opposite
directions, tied together by a girl they both love. The twist
is that this is India, and one of the brothers, Jamal (played as an
adult by Dev Patel), is being tortured in a local police station
because he has been suspected of cheating on the nation's biggest
game show, British import "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"
Yes, it's the same version we jacked from the Brits, except when we
meet him, Jamal has been answering a number of difficult questions
on a show where, previously, no one has even gotten past the halfway
point to winning the "big prize", a whopping 20 million rupees.
Let's flash back to when Jamal and his brother Samir were just small
children; they are always fighting, always getting in trouble, and
after their mother is brutally killed in an attack on the boys'
slum, they run all over India living from stolen rupee to stolen
rupee. Eventually, they meet another homeless girl named
Latika, and the self-made "Three Musketeers" go everywhere in search
of a normal existence.
Like Boyle's other films, even the
not-so-good "The Beach",
"Slumdog Millionaire" is a very lively experience over its two-hour
run...the soundtrack is a mix of truly everything (international
pop, traditional Indian themes, that wacko lounge track "Paper
Planes" by M.I.A., even what sounded like Mumbai-infused hip-hop)
and might be the film's best asset. If you leave this film and
say something like "Man, that soundtrack really sucked", I'll know that
you know nothing about music. The cinematography is great and
shows a side of India off the beaten path, which I loved, and even
though you can tell some of these actors are acting, I didn't mind
since many of the film's scenes are played for laughs.
The film is a good mix of comedy and drama
for a while, but things turn dark late and they turn very...well,
movie. Things happen that just irritated me because they were
so scripted, so perfectly poetic, and the ending is too storybook
given how the film's first 110 minutes play out. Plus, we even
get a Bollywood dance number at the end to rub in the Indian-ness of
this product. It's almost as if Danny Boyle made the film's
first 110 minutes, and then let a Bollywood musical director finish
it, which leaves you with a strange taste in your mouth.
Otherwise, "Slumdog Millionaire" is good
stuff, even if it is far from perfect. Catch it in theaters so
you can enjoy the thing with others, but this will make a great
night on the couch too.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$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