My Blog List

People I Know

Eclectic Folks

Media Blogs

Politics, Policy Blogs

Page Rank

Check Page Rank of your Web site pages instantly:

This page rank checking tool is powered by Page Rank Checker service

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

MOVIE REVIEW: The Namesake


The wife and I got to go to the movies on Good Friday. After going to an Indian-Pakistani buffet, we went to a movie at the Spectrum about a Bengali family from India. It was made by Mira Nair, who made the charming 2002 film Monsoon Wedding, as well as the entertaining 1992 interracial romance Mississippi Masala. we had been looking forward to seeing this picture, having seen the previews a number of times in the winter movie-going period.

Nair's new film, The Namesake, though it also contains a wedding, paints with a broader palate. This is both the movie's strength and weakness. Its most positive attribute is that it is a movie of scope, covering this Indian couple who come to the United States and raise a couple American kids who are less than enamored with the old traditions. The name of the male child is an important part of the story. The problem is that some segments are far weaker than others, and both Carol and I got impatient at times.

I find I almost entirely agree with the reviews, both positive AND negative.
(NEGATIVE) The episodic structure grows rather rambling over two hours.
(POSITIVE) The movie might be perceived as being a little slow but it's surprisingly engrossing, and the occasional bits of humor are welcome and in keeping with the tone of the entire piece.
(POSITIVE) It'll make you want to a) book a holiday to India and b) call your mother.
(POSITIVE) Sprawling but affecting family drama, marked by sensitive direction and fine performances.
(POSITIVE) A rich, if not completely satisfying, pleasure.
and especially this one
(POSITIVE) The Namesake takes in a lot of territory, and at times is too diffuse, too attenuated. But the actors are so expressive that they provide their own continuity. They transport us to a realm of pure feeling.

Ultimately, it's worth it to see "Kal Penn [have] something more substantial on his resumé than Harold & Kumar Get The Munchies." Days after seeing the film, the characters still resonate with us, especially the parents. It is another worthwhile film by Mira Nair about the immigrant experience.
***
Got this e-mail about a new animated film from an adoption group participant and wanted to know if anyone has seen the film - I haven't - and if so, if he or she thinks the comments in the letter below are valid:

We feel that it is important to warn you about a Disney movie called "Meet the Robinsons" that is now playing at many local cinemas. The advertising for this animated feature makes it sound like a great movie for any young child. Fortunately, one of our adoptive parents alerted us about the negative adoption messages in the story and the very unhappy experience she had with both of her children who were very greatly disturbed by the messages conveyed in this film. As a result, I went to
see the film to decide if it warranted putting out an alert to our adoptive parent community. Indeed, I thought that the concerns raised were completely valid.
The movie is filled with extraordinarily inappropriate messages about adoption. The basic story is about an adorable baby whose birth mother leaves him on the doorstep of an orphanage. Portrayed as loving, sweet, extremely smart and overly appealing, he spends the next 12 years of his life wanting a family and being turned down by one family after another - in all, 114 couples refuse to adopt him. One scene shows a prospective dad losing interest in adoption because this very smart little boy is
more interested in science than sports. The prospective parents leave the disappointed child in a huff when he accidentally splatters them with some liquid from his science project. This is supposed to be funny.
Since no one else wants him, the child invents a time machine in order to go back in time to find his birth mother. The "bad guy" in his time travel journey turns out to be his best buddy from childhood, once his orphanage roommate. Now an emotional wreck resulting from being left behind when the orphanage was closed and shut down, the once-cute orphan is now mean and devious. Another chuckle. Various monsters attack the child as he continues his birth mother search. You get the picture!
I found "Meet the Robinsons" to be both tasteless and totally insensitive regarding adoption issues. Please think very carefully before taking your child to see it, whether adopted or not. I will write the Disney Corporation to let them know about my concerns about their flippant way of dealing with issues that are extremely important and not funny for millions of adoptees and their families in this country and around the world.




ROG

2 comments:

Scott said...

I am looking forward to seeing "The Namesake" as I read the novel and rather enjoyed it. Also, I am interested in seeing Kal Penn play a mostly dramatic role.

Bill said...

I saw Meet the Robinsons a while back with both my daughters, and didn't get the same impression as the reviewer you reference. I am a father of two young girls, but not through adoption. So a parent who's participated in the adoption system may have a totally different perspective on this stuff. But I thought the movie made the head of the orphanage a positive and caring figure, and since it ended with not one, but two successful adoptions that literally "saved the world," I'm not sure one can just label the film as an anti-adoption film.

In fact, the reviewer seems to be arguing as much against the "chased by monsters" and "in search of birth mother" scenes as the supposed bad depiction of the adoption process. Both of those are completely different arguments. If you don't want to see a movie where a kid's chased by monsters, that's fine. And if you don't want your adopted child seeing a movie where a kid searches out his birth mother, that's fine, too. It's your call as a parent. But I would think that the latter is at least something that really does happen in adoptive families, so I don't think it's a negative depiction to show that, necessarily.

Also, in the movie (spoiler warning here), the boy finds his birth mother, only to choose NOT to contact her, but instead to rely on the adoption process to find him a loving home. So if anything, it's a testament to how adoption matches kids up with parents who really do love and care for them, and that adoption is sometimes the best situation for a kid.

Like I said, I may be missing an angle because I've never adopted a child, but I really think the reviewer was making much ado about nothing. I hope I'm not being insensitive to her issues, but that's my opinion.