Movie review of “Meet the Patels”: Television actor Ravi Patel is the subject of this funny, touching documentary about searching for an Indian-American mate under the watchful eye of his pushy parents. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.
Though it’s a bit of a slog, “Meet the Patels” is ultimately a touching, funny documentary about family and cultural forces putting pressure on a first-generation Indian-American man to do what should come naturally: find love and a life partner.
The single 30-year-old under his exasperated parents’ microscope and captured by his sister Geeta’s camera is Ravi Patel, a busy, familiar actor from television (“Master of None,” “Super Fun Night”). Following a painful breakup with his longtime girlfriend Audrey (a relationship he did not tell his mother Champa and father Vasant about), a vulnerable Ravi succumbs to his folks’ entreaties to put himself in circulation and marry a woman either from India or who is Indian American.
This is no ordinary task. Even before the age of the Internet, there were and are vast networks in Indian society for arranging marriages, or at least shoving single people together. Constantly lectured by Champa and Vasant about his lack of dedication and shyness (“She might not even know you’re talking to her when you’re talking to her”), Patel goes to India and on a cross-country drive in the U.S. for prearranged dates. At one point, he attends a “marriage convention” during which a trial of speed-dating looks agonizing.
Movie Review ★★½
‘Meet the Patels,’ a documentary directed by Geeta Patel and Ravi Patel, from a screenplay by Geeta Patel, Ravi Patel, Billy McMillin and Matthew Hamachek. 88 minutes. Rated PG for thematic elements, smoking. Sundance Cinemas (21+).
But the heart of co-directors Geeta and Ravi Patel’s rough-looking, fly-on-the-wall film is the way love and humor can trump conflicts over values. Champa and Vasant might not let up on Patel, but we can tell they are unconditionally devoted and realistic about the chances of old-world traditions surviving in fast-moving American society. In the end, they just want their kids to have what they have together.
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