My review of "Slumdog Millionaire"
At long last, it's happened. Via "Slumdog Millionaire," I've reached the pinnacle of my years of movie viewing. I've finally watched a film with a scene of a young boy being dipped, from head-to-toe, in human shit. True, the later scene of a teen boy being hung from the ceiling and having a car battery attached to his "delicate areas" was also fabulous. However, that scene could be considered highly deriviative if you consider all those supressed Guantanamo videos. Still, it's easy to see why this piece of celluloid was nominated for ten Oscars: Hollywood is just as full of shit as this movie.
One unique aspect of this over-arching pile of Oscar bait, is that it is an English film, based on an Indian story, produced by an American film studio. In other words, "Slumdog Millionaire" has all the brittle pretension of a Merchant/Ivory starch-fest, combined with a repulsive setting in one of the world's greatest hellholes, and is filled with idiotic American movie cliches which include sophomoric scatological references, gratuitious violence, an adolescent love story about dopey adolescents in love, cheesy references to American culture and, of course, gangsters. Does the mafia have some kind of agreement with Hollywood that every other movie plot has to be intertwined with underworld dirtbags?
The story follows a hapless young man, Jamal (Dev Patel), who, orphaned at an early age, survived the horrors of slum life in Mumbai with his older brother, Salim (Madhur Mittal). As is often the case in families, the older brother is an asshole. The third leg of this broken stool is Latika (Freida Pinto), another orphan, for whom Jamal develops a lifelong love. In the West, this would be known as a pathological obsession. In India, apparently this is a love story.
Jamal, who comes across as an Indian Gilligan, manages to grow up, despite a never-ending series of misadventures, and stumble his way onto the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" Despite being an uneducated dope, he answers all the questions right, and wins 27 gazillion rupees, the equivalent of $1.75 in the U.S. The host of the show, who, in an incredible casting coup, comes across as even greasier than the original American host, Regis Phibin, assumes Jamal has cheated and has him arrested and tortured by the Indian version of Homeland Security. This is where Jamal's story is played out. He attempts to convince his captors that events from his horrific life provided him with answers to the questions, and the movie unfurls in a series of repellant flashbacks. As the movie draws to a conclusion, it does an inexplicable about face and ends with a series of sugary cliches that come straight from the American and Indian tradition of lame movie musicals. The best ending, instead, would have been if they had taken the director, Danny Boyle, and all the principal characters and dipped them in shit, then rolled them in sugar.