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February 14, 2011 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-02-14

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, February 14, 2011 - 7A

TV/NEW MEDIA COLUMN
bOutsourced'
brings it home,

FILM REVIEW
Sandier can't stay w ith it
'Just Go With It' is another immature romp
through the old familiar Sandler-lot
By Ben Verdi I Daily Arts Writer

'Q utsourced" is one of
my favorite shows
on television. Yes,
that "Outsourced," the NBC
sitcom about the call center in
India that
caused all
the hooplah
about por-
trayingwild-
£ ly offensive
stereotypes,
appearing
on the A.V.
Club's "worst KAVI
new series SHEKHAR
of 2010" PANDEY
list. And
since I knew
you were wondering, yes, I am
indeed an Indian-American.
But before I begin my defense,
a bit of personal background
is necessary. I grew up in the
Upper Peninsula of Michigan,
a place with more bears than
brown people. Though my fam-
ily was part of our town's small,
tight-knit Indian community
(which existed solely because of
* the local university), my class-
mates and closest friends were
overwhelmingly not Indian.
Still, throughout my child-
hood, my parents made sure to
emphasize Indian culture, so I
grew up worshipping Bollywood
9 stars Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi
Chawala, learning Hindi and
practicing Hindu traditions
just like any kid from my native
region. But, as a kid, my strong
Indian identity was only part of
my private life - publicly, I bur-
rowed my Indianness due to a
fear a of ridicule by my friends,
who I thought wouldn't under-
stand myenjoyment of movies
with people gyrating their hips
to songs in a foreign language
(among other cultural chasms).-
I justdidn't want my frieni
to think that I was different
and weird - I would get embar-
rassed if my parents spoke Hindi
in front of them, but the minute
they left I would crank up the
"Dil Se" soundtrack on the ste-
reo and pull out my "Chacha
Chaudhary" comic books. These
dueling identities continued
throughout middle and high
school, slowly merging during
my senior year as I became more
confident in my brownness.
Then, freshman year of col-
lege, God said, "Let there be
'Slumdog Millionaire"' and
suddenly Indian culture became
universally cool. I eagerly
jumped on this new status quo,
watching movies like "Dostana"
with my American friends, feed-
ing them homemade Indian food
and teaching them assorted
words in Hindi. But it still didn't
feel complete - my culture
seemed more like an accessory.
People still couldn't comprehend
the aspects of Indian culture
that defined my personality.
That's when "Outsourced"
came into the picture. I'll be the
first to admit that I thought the
showwas goingto be a disaster.
The promos, which featured
jokes about a guy named "Man-
meet" ("Man Meat," LOL) and a
rotund Indian man awkwardly
singing along to the Pussycat
Dolls, made the show seem like a
step backward.
The pilot came along, and as
I feared, it was deplorable - the
jokes were as stupid as the pro-

mos forewarned, the characters
unlikable. I was ready to write
off the show permanently if
it hadn't been for a handful of
stylistic choices that I never
thought I'd see on primetime
American television - in partic-
ular, the use of the enthralling
title song from "Omkara," my

favorite Bollywood movie of all
time, throughout the episode.
I decided to watch the show
again the next week and noticed
a marked improvement, espe-
cially in the subtleties of the
interactions between Americans
and Indians. A sequence that
really hit home for me - and I'm
sure many other Indian-Amer-
icans - involved the character
Madhuri requesting her Ameri-
can boss, Todd, to pronounce
her name correctly. He repeat-
edly mispronounces it, and real-
izing the futility of the exercise,
Madhuri exasperatedly accepts
the wrong pronunciation.
The memories came rushing
back: all the first days of school,
when my new teachers would
read off the roll call and I would
cringe with anticipation of how
badlythey would butcher my
name. "KAY-vai?" they would
call out. "Actually it's pro-
nounced Kuh-vee," I'd respond.
"KAY-vee?" "Kuh-vee." "KAH-
vee?" "Yes, that's right."
The nostalgia of hearing Bol-
lywood songs from my child-
hood, combined with my ability
to strongly empathize with situ-
ations made me quickly warm to
"Outsourced." But my reverence
of the show didn't begin until
I saw the third episode, which
featured Todd and the object of
his affections, Asha, engage in
a discussion about their views
on relationships in Indian and
American culture. As Asha
explained the merits of arranged
marriage to Todd, I sat there in
amazement - arranged mar-
riage is such a significant part
of Indian culture that I haven't
been able to begin to explain to
my American friends through-
out my life, and here was this
NBC show doing the job for m,
It's pronounced
'Kuh-vee,' not
'Slumdog.'
Since then, "Outsourced"
has gone on to nail the aspects
of Indian culture I could only
dream of relating to my friends,
including the nuances that one
rarely sees in typical Western
depictions of India. Take paan
for instance, an Indian tobacco-
filled leaf sold on street corners
that many men - including my
dad - are hooked on. Watching
Gupta's addiction to the product
evoked my childhood joys of
squeezing onto a moped with
my dad, mom and sister as we
embarked on quests to buy paan
from street vendors in India.
And now, because of "Out-
sourced," I can talk to my house-
mates aboutpaan and they'll
know exactly what it is.
For me, and maybe for other
Indian-Americans, watching
"Outsourced" is anunbeliev-
ably cathartic experience. All
the aspects of my culture that I
publicly hid for so many years
surfaced as a sitcom for all of
America to watch. And hopefully,
the next Indian-American kid
growing up in the Upper Pen-
insula will never be afraid to be
expressive of his Indian identity.
It'll never be the wittiest

sitcom, and I doubt it will ever
win any Emmys. But whether it
lasts just one season or 10, I will
never forget what "Outsourced"
has done for me.

"Just Go With It" almost
feels like an experiment. It's as
if star Adam Sandler ("Grown
Ups") and
his favor-
ite direc-
tor Dennis Just Go With It
Dugan
("Grown At Quality16
Ups") wrote and Rave
out the
beginning Columbia
and end-
ing of a movie, and then flew to
Hawaii to begin filming without
any particular plan for what was
going in the middle.
"How about Jennifer Anis-
ton?" Dugan probably asked
Sandler.
"Yep, add her in there some-
where," Sandler would have
indifferently replied.
"Consider it done! Who else
would you like to hook up with
in this movie?"
"The new blonde one ... the
one with Andy Roddick... "
"Oh yeah," would muse Dugan
and actor Nick Swardson ("Bed-
time Stories"), big-screen new-
comer Brooklyn Decker's name
escaping them both.
"Eh, it doesn't matter. She's
hot!" they'd all conclude, moving
on directly to how they'd all split

the movie's box-office earnings.
It's these spur-of-the-moment
conversations and decisions
that made Sandler's early mov-
ies like "Happy Gilmore," "Billy
Madison," "Big Daddy" and
"The Waterboy" so spontaneous,
unpredictable and hilarious. But
because Sandler is relying on the
same formula for comedic alche-
my that he always has, his mov-
ies and their jokes have begun to
feel repetitiye and forced.
Some of the jokes in this movie
go on far too long, while others
are not developed enough. The
movie's farcical plot involves
Sandler, Aniston and Swardson
lying, as a group, to Sandler's
new girlfriend (played by Deck-
er) about Sandler and Aniston's
past together. The lie is that they
were once married and had kids
but have since gotten divorced,
which is why Sandler is now
conveniently available. The
truth is that he's never been in
a relationship with Aniston, but
wants to pretend he was married
at one time to gain some kind of
sympathy from Decker to help
win her over.
This idea for a plot would
work if we paid ty-see Adam
Sandler's movies for their intri-
cately portrayed love-triangles.

"Thanks for being in my movie ... ladies."
And if it was at all difficult to
trick Brooklyn Decker.
Farces are funny, people pre-
tending to be different people
are funny and Adam Sandler
is funny. But "Just Go With It"
feels like passing a cinematic
kidney stone. Two hours of pain
with only a few brief moments of
rest and possible laughter is not
enough to calla movie funny. It's
almost hard to call it a movie at
all. It feels like watching the first
performance of an improv com-
edy group whose members have
never met before.
There is no chemistry, there is
no plan and the funniest points
in the movie are funny because
they have the least to do with
the story itself. Aniston was

simply next on Sandler's hookup
bucket-list, and he figured he'd
add Brooklyn Decker in because
... well, have you seen what she
looks like? Swardson is funny,
but he seems to be Sandler's new
favorite muse simply because of
how irrelevant Rob Schneider
has become.
Meanwhile, Sandler grows
older and more predictable with
each half-baked movie he puts
his name on. It's sad to watch
a legend keep playing past his
prime, but that's exactly what
Sandler is doing. He's like the
aging Don Corleone in"The
Godfather." His name, and the
greatness he's already achieved,
seem to be the only powerful
things he has left.

TV REVIEW
Creator of 'The Shield' tones
down for 'The Chicago Code'

By KAVI SHEKH AR PANDEY
Senior Arts Editor
See cops. See cops investi-
gate a murder. Investigate, cops,
investigate! See cops catch crim-

inal. Hooray,
cops, hooray!
The sad
truth is, net-
work police
dramas - from
"NCIS" to "Law
& Order: SVU"
- operate with
this preschool-
level plot struc-

The Chicago
Code
Pilot
Mondays at9 p.m.
Fox

ture, making them all nearly
indistinguishable from each
other and tedious to watch. But
from its very first scene, "The
Chicago Code" makes sure audi-
ences know its not going to be
just another "crime of the week"
snooze-a-palooza.
The opening voiceover, deliv-
ered by newly appointed police
superintendent Teresa Colvin
(Jennifer Beals, "The L Word"),
explicitly indicates that the
show will be a continuous nar-
rative, a saga following Colvin's
crusade to take down the noto-
rious corruption of Chicago's
political system (land of Rod
Blagojevich and Richard Daley)
- namely, the rotten Alderman
Ronin Gibbons (Delroy Lindo,
"Kidnapped").
It's a bold beginning for what

promises to be a bold series (at
least by network standards).
And, despite the problems of
its pilot, "The Chicago Code"
- brainchild of Shawn Ryan -
has laid the groundwork, with
its engaging storyline, to poten-
tially fill the great-police-drama
void left since Ryan's first cre-
ation, FX's "The Shield," ended
in 2008.
But right now, "The Chicago
Code" still feels like the non-
fat, decaf, no-whip version of
"The Shield." Ryan's previous
program featured a squad of
extremely crooked police offi-
cers, but the crooked in "Code"
are the politicians and wealthy
businessmen - because corrupt
cops would be too risqu, right?
"The Shield" was also famous
for its use of handheld cameras,
especially during frantic foot
chases through the backyards of
Los Angeles ghettos. The pilot
of "Code" involves an identical
chase scenario, though it only
shoots with a handheld for a
brief snippet before realizing it's
not cool enough to wear those
pants and switching back to a
plain old Steadicam.
Where "Code" particu-
larly pales in comparison to
its predecessor is in the char-
acterizations of its innumer-
able protagonists - most
egregiously, Jarek Wysocki
("Jason Clarke, "Brother-

hood"), a character who isn't vious successes should give us
fit to mop the sweat off of Vic enough faith that he'll guide the
Mackey's bald, glistening head. show to greater prosperity.
Clarke gives a fine performance Until then, there's still enough
as Colvin's former partner, but if to stay tuned in for. As he did
you want to play the Cop Cliche in "The Shield," Ryan expands
Drinkjng Game while watching criminal investigations beyond
the pilot, beware of waking up "who" and "why" to examine
with certain shapes drawn in how the crimes affect the police
Sharpie on your face. department's relationships with
citizens, gangs and the local
government. When the first dead
body surfaces in "Code," what's
A s gimportant is not who the per-
petrator was, but how that body
creates airestorm between two
drinking game. gangs and how Colvin has to
scramble to avoid a bloodbath.
This exploration of Chicago's
unseen machinations - along
Reckless? Drink. Goes with on-location shooting and
through partners like rolls of Kanye West on the soundtrack
toilet paper? Drink. Endearing - makes the city an integral
quality that makes him love- part of the narrative, not just an
able? Drink (he's bizzaro Rahm accessory.
Emanuel - hates profanity). Ex- It seems like "The Chicago
wife? Haunted by a family trag- Code" always lies in the shadow
edy? That's at least two shots of "The Shield." But as long as
each. it works out the bugs and con-
The good news is, these are tinues on this path of excellent
not fatal flaws, merely wrinkles storytelling - exemplified by a
that can be steam-ironed as the monstrous twist ending - the
series progresses - Ryan's pre- light switch isn't out of reach.

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