Review (2009): Slumdog Millionaire: Great movie … my final answer

The Regis Philbin of India made Slumdog Millionaire fun.

Slumdog Millionaire (R, 2 hours): If you’re like me, you liked Who Wants to be a Millionaire when it was Regis Philbin’s show. Meredith Vieria is no slouch, but it was a lot more fun with a hyper Regis throwing out a Bronx accent.

And if you’re like me, you’re wondering what Who Wants to be a Millionaire is like in the other countries that bought into the franchise. You’re wondering what the Japanese Regis is like? What’s Bulgaria’s Regis like? Do they also ask, “Is that your final answer? … like Regis, in their own languages?

That obsession drew me to Slumdog Millionaire. What does India’s Regis sound or look like?

But Slumdog Millionaire turned out to be more than I expected. I knew that the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association voted it the best film of 2008. Indy houses have been showing it for nearly a month.

It had the buzz, and now I know why.

It’s a fantasy tale of an orphan (Dev Patel) who uses hard-edged lessons learned in the Mumbai slums to help him compete on India’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire to impress his destined love. Suspected of cheating and held by police, the narrative from Patel’s character (Jamal) during his interrogation offers the details.

His story throws you into a mashup of emotions. It’s tragic. Funny. Romantic. Tragic again. Funny again. Tragic once more. Romantic again.

And, the Indian Regis (Anil Kapoor)? Well, he’s smug, condescending … and he dances. I’ll take our Regis any day.

Best time for a bathroom break: Don’t even. In slow moments, the movie lets you catch your breath with the necessary details. Unless you have someone filling you in while you’re gone, don’t go. Don’t get the large drink for sure.

Bollywood homage: Yes, there is a bit, when little Jamal gets an autograph from a Bollywood legend. It’s funny … and gross. Don’t miss it. You’ll also get a closing credits Bollywood-style music video, flash-mob style. It’s not quite the toe-tapper of Madagascar’s “I Like to Move it” credit-closers.

Date movie: Easily. An orphan overcomes improbable odds to win the affection of the love of his life. C’mon.

Availability now: Yep, on DVD and Blu-Ray. My final answer.


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