GROWING UP SMITH – A Review by Gadi Elkon

Growing Up Smith is a humorous fish-out-of-water tale that looks at a young Indian boy's entertaining dive into becoming a Good Ol' American Boy.  Click through for my full review of the film.

Growing Up Smith's ability to slightly poke fun at the traditions and lifestyle of the immigrant transition to American culture is the real treat of the film.  Writer/Director Frank Lotito and his team of writers Paul Quinn, Gregory Scott Hougton and star Anjul Nigam fully capture the fun innocent side of immigration through the tight family experience.  Whether you're Indian or not the theme still will seem all to familiar.  This universal quality to the film's plot is the real inspiring element from the film.  I found myself laughing throughout and even choked up at the end even though my Israel/Jewish immigration story is so different.  Bravo to the film's ability to capture such family connections that we all share.  Mixed in with the immigrant story is a fun take on the regular American family told through the neighboring Brunner family.  The connections of these two families is where the clashing of cultures is allowed to mold into a wonderful heartfelt connecting point for both sets of families. 

 

The film does a wonderful job of capturing the time and place of late 70's America with the clothing, cars, and most importantly the musical choices.  I thought a lot of the TV show The Wonder Years with the "looking back" narration, the clothing choices, and the great music score.  Whether it's the Bee Gees, The Four Tops, or Johnny Cash the music helps really ground the film and allows everyone to instantly connect to the atmosphere Frank Lotito was trying to capture.  The music also does a great job of allowing for smooth transitions and emotional turns.  I didn't expect the film to have such a change near the end but the closing of the film sees drastic change and the music quietly showcases it.  The antics of the beginning of the film are on full stereo mode while the ending is much more poignant and heartfelt. 

 

The clothing of not only the dress up moments for young Smith, but the Indian attire of the Bhatnagar family is also well done.  Poorna Jagannathan performance and look as "Nalini Bhatnagar" gives a perfect feel of Indian culture and helps highlight how young Smith and his sister's American attire further splits Indian and American cultures.  The cars and look of the town and school help give the film another time stamp that makes the film seem universal. 

 

The connection to family is the real passion behind the film.  The acting going on when the adult actors get to interact with the young talents are the best scenes.  The clashing of age and culture allows for the most amount of humor.  Anjul Nigam really gets to put on the crazy Indian father role when he's interacting with young folks, the above trick-or-treat scene showcasing this beautifully.  The love story elements of young Smith and Amy Brunner are kept innocent and heartfelt.  Though the film's final 20 minutes allows from some truly emotionally driven material.  Brighton Sarbino gets to show an amazing range of acting in this film as Amy Brunner and her twisting fate in the plot is really an unexpected intriguing element.  A film that will touch both parent and child.  Don't miss out on this nice treat of a film.

The movie has opened in limited release this weekend and already has announced more expansion in the coming weeks.  Here in Texas you can see it at AMC Stonebriar in Frisco and next weekend it'll expand to Grapevine's AMC Grapevine Mills 30. 

For a real treat check out our Exclusive sit-down interviews with Roni Akurati "Smith Bhatnagar" and Writer/Producer Anjul Nigam "Bhaaskar Bhatnagar"!

Follow the expansion of the film and connect through social media through their website, here.