HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Meet the Patels
HTS Overall Score:64
“Meet the Patels” advertises itself as a real life rom com, and in many ways it’s very true. A light hearted documentary, the film covers the dating life of real life actor Rav Patel (you may know him from “Transformers”) co directed by himself and his sister. Familial problems coming from a traditional Indian family are certain to be high and the cheeky wit and easy going air of the film makes it less dry than your traditional documentary. In fact it’s almost a walking talking comedy as truth is many times stranger than fiction. I laughed, I laughed some more and I chuckled a good bit as I watch the poor guy trying to document the ridiculous depths this man went to in order to find a mate. Even if that rollercoaster ends him right back where he started.
Ravi’s older sister, Geeta, does most of the direction and camera work for the film, and keeps the film grounded in reality as she pokes fun at his failures, encourages his successes and basically integrates herself into the film as the floating voice as only a sibling can. Ravi Patel is a B level actor in Hollywood who has been dating an American girl behind his parents back. You see, Ravi and Geeta are the unmarried children of Vasant and Champ Patel, 1st generation immigrants from India. Like many first generation parents, they are deeply invested in the culture of their old home and that means that unmarried 30 year old children is kind of an embarrassment. Especially since Mrs. Patel is known back home as an excellent match maker. With that in mind, Ravi has been dating an American woman behind his parents back and just when he gets tired of living a double life, the two of them break up. Sad and lonely, Champ and Vasant Patel see this as an opportunity to get their son hitched, so they take him back home to India and try to kick start his interest in arranged marriages.
Having failed at a traditional relationship, Ravi is willing to go along with his parents ideas and see if he can get some interest in an Indian woman. Traveling back home after no success, his parents are more intent than ever at getting him hitched so they start shopping around in the good old US of A to find him a match among their Indian contacts. As tactic after tactic fails, Ravi moves from system to system, going to dating seminars, friends hooking him up with their friends, and just about everything in between. Mama Patel especially steals the show as she does her very best to get a good girl for her son, including sending mass emails and faxes to every eligible contact she has at her disposal to no avail.
“Meet the Patels” is more than just a simple documentary about dating. It’s a tale about cultural differences and finding love in places that are not familiar to ourselves. It’s about family bonds and the lengths one will go to in order to see about the happiness of a loved one. It’s also the conflict that forms between parents and children as they try and use cultural norms from one place and adapt it to another. Mr. and Mrs. Patel come from a completely different culture than what Ravi and Geeta are familiar with. Sure they were raised traditionally Indian, speaking the language and home and becoming culturally aware of their heritage, but because of being raised in the United States, they have the distinction of being part “American” in their cultural normative behaviors as well. American dating norms are comfortable to Ravil, while his parents don’t understand the concept. This creates the conflict of the story as Ravi and Geeta are an enigma to their parents, no matter how much they know their children due to their OWN upbringing and marital experiences being so radically different.
The point of the story is not to watch Ravi get a wife. In fact it’s humorous to see where this journey takes him at the end, but rather its main purpose is to laugh and giggle at all of the eccentricities that happen when being raised in a multi-cultural household. The tone is kept light and airy, with Geeta acting as the guiding force behind the film as Ravi stumbles and bumbles his way through his exploration of himself. Mr. and Mrs. Patel are probably the funniest part of the video, because come on, who doesn’t love the crazy old parents in a comedy setting like this? The tone of the movie is kept intentionally funny throughout, as Geeta and Ravi interject scenes and blurbs from real life romantic comedies into the situations to accent the already goofy scenarios the poor guy gets himself into.
Rated PG for thematic elements, brief suggestive images and incidental smoking
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=64562[/img]“Meet the Patels” is shot on a variety of different hand held cameras, shot by Ravi’s sister Geeta. Some of the more clean and clear shots are framed in 1.78:1 using a much nicer camera, which shows some nice detail, solid blacks and pretty colors. Other times and old fashioned camera in 4x3 was used and that particular filming source is exceptionally grungy looking. Colors are washed out, contrast is cruddy and fine detail is exceptional poor and filled with digital artifacting from the cameras. It’s not a movie that really TRYS to be pretty and that’s not a fault of the encoding, but rather a byproduct of using cheap low grade video cameras for the creation of the documentary.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=64570[/img]Much like the video quality, the English 5.1 track is decidedly mixed. In the case of the narration and the “interview” aspects of the film, we get a solid dialog driven track that has clear vocals. They sometimes fade in and out since there are no boom mikes to contribute to audio fidelity or other equipment, but it’s more than satisfactory. However, when switching to that old 4x3 shooting video camera the audio gets muddled and gritty, with some rather poor fidelity at times. Again, it’s not a problem with the encode from Alchemy, but rather the unfortunate side effect of the equipment used.
“Meet the Patels” is a charming little documentary that struggles a bit in the middle half with nowhere to go, but the journey is 90% of the experience and poor Ravi has just been through a journey. Everyone loves a good story about love and marriage, especially when you have some overly loving parents thrown into a mix from a culture that isn’t nearly as laid back about dating as we are today. They advertise it with the tagline of a “real life My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and in many ways it’s true. The documentary style filming keeps it from being a gorgeous looking film, but that’s not really the point. The grungy and cheaply shot filming style keeps it authentic and less cheesy than it might have seemed if it was a traditional fictional rom com. Recommended for a fun rental.
Starring: Ravi Patel, Chandar Abboy, Renita Abboy
Directed By: Geeta Patel, Ravi Patel
Written By: Matthew Hamachek, Billy McMillin
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1, 1.33:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1, English DD 2.0
Runtime: 87 Minutes
DVD Release Date: January 26th, 2016
Recommendation: Good Rental
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