Reviewed by: Harvey Karten for Shockya. Databased on Rotten Tomatoes.
Grade: B+
Director: Geeta V. Patel, Ravi V. Patel
Screenwriter:  Geeta V. Patel, Ravi V. Patel, Billy McMillin, Matt Hamachek
Cast:  Ravi V. Patel, Champa V. Patel, Vasant K. Patel, Audrey Allison Wauchope, Geeta V. Patel
Screened at: Review 2, NYC, 6/9/15
Opens:  September 2015

There’s an abundance of cultures on planet earth, so while the slogan of the Flushing, New York World’s Fair was “It’s a small world after all,” we find that people from the Indian state of Gujarat not only can’t understand the language of the folks in India’s Mysore, and people in Manhattan appear to be speaking a different language from the folks in Omaha.  Perhaps it’s because the world has gotten so small that people hang on to their localisms, but one thing we all have in common whether from North Korea and Iran or Canada and Mexico: everybody wants to have grandchildren.  For most, that still means marriage.  When a man or woman reaches the age of thirty and is still single, parents put the squeeze on, carrot and stick: the stick is the hassle the young person gets from everyone in the immediate family.  The carrot is the provision the elders make to help their young ‘uns hitch up.  The conflict between parents who want the best for their children and the children who may have their own ideas can provide for comic moments.  There are quite a few such moments in “Meet the Patels,” which may be a documentary, but like Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock, directors Geeta V. Patel and Ravi V. Pael, joined by co-screenwriters Bill McMillin and Matt Hamachek pour on the gags without the usual documentary rigidities like formal interviews, and characters facing the camera and blabbing on and on about things of interest only to them.

There’s an interviewer in “Meet the Patels,” but you’d scarcely think of Geeta Patel in that manner, since she is actually talking to an animated figure, animated both in the formal sense of the word and loaded with facial expressions to show emotions.  Eyebrows are raised, eyes move from straight ahead to the floor, as the man behind the cartoon, single 29-year-old man (and co-director) Ravi V Patel lives in L.A. with sister Geeta (the above-named interviewer).  Ravi was dating Audrey, an American redhead for two years, keeping his relationship a secret from his parents Champa V. Patel and father Vasant K. Patel.  Dad and Mom want the boy to marry not only an Indian gal but a Gujarati—certainly not “a black or a Muslim” as the parents put it.  Should Ravi consider an arranged marriage?

He does consider a semi-arranged deal in which dad finances him on a cross-country air trip, affording him bio-data, which is like a resume exchanged among relatives of marriageable women.  After maybe two dozen meetings for coffee (or Darjeeling tea), he strikes out.  Nothing there for him.  Yet his parents had an arranged hookup back then and, after thirty-five years, they say that they’re happy.

While mother Champa cooks and serves as straight-person, husband Vasant becomes the star, with a face that could find a home on the walls adorning New York’s Comedy Corner (think Buddy Hackett).  On and on, Vasant tells his son that marriage is the only institution that can make him happy, though it’s clear that what Vasant really wants is grandchildren.  Five at least.  By the time the story reaches its conclusion, one that perhaps you in the theater audience can guess, all the loose ends are tied, gags are so professional that they must have been carefully rehearsed, and “Meet the Patels” justifies its audience award of Best Doc at a recent Los Angeles Film Festival.

Unrated.  88 minutes.  © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story  B+
Acting – B+
Technical – C+
Overall – B+


By Harvey Karten

Harvey Karten is the founder of the The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) an organization composed of Internet film critics based in New York City. The group meets once a year, in December, for voting on its annual NYFCO Awards.

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