Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

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Published on: 2009.07.11

If you haven’t heard of this movie, you’ve probably been living under a rock.

Slumdog Millionaire was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won eight of them, including Best Picture and Best Director. It also won Best Film at the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Awards, Best Drama Film at the Golden Globes, and bunch of other awards it didn’t deserve.

Yep, I said it.

“Best Picture”? No. It was simply the best picture of the five that were nominated (Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, and the Reader were the other four). Quite a few movies from 2008 weren’t even nominated. Heck, The Dark Knight was better than all five of the above nominations, as was WALL-E.

Slumdog also won “Best Sound Mixing,” which was a farce. Again, WALL-E or the Dark Knight should have won this hands down.

In fact, the only Academy Award that Slumdog should have won, was Best Cinematography. I’ll give them that. The camera work was outstanding.

The biggest disappointment of this movie was that it didn’t deliver what almost everyone promised. After hearing its hype for over a year and having this film recommended by several friends, it was pretty much a flop.

The plot in summary: a boy named Jamal and his brother Salim are orphaned early, and live a tough life in the slums of India. Early on, Jamal falls in love with Latika and never falls out of love with her. His whole life is a search to find her again and keep her safe, while avoiding the clutches of Indian gangsters. It’s all told from the perspective of an adult Jamal, who works in a telemarketing firm and is now a contestant on the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (which was never once correctly pronounced in the film). Basically, Jamal does well on the show and is accused of cheating. He’s taken to a police station, where he recalls his life in broken chunks and tells his story to the police officers.

The acting by Dev Patel and Freida Pinto was the best part of the movie for me, but acting is one thing the movie was not awarded for.

There was nothing startling, groundbreaking, or mesmerizing about Slumdog Millionaire. If you’ve seen a documentary about any developing country, then the scenes in the slums will be familiar to you. If you’ve seen any film that follows a character from poorness to greatness, or watched any well-played love story, then Slumdog Millionaire won’t be that exciting.

And how clichéd is it that a person from India works at a telemarketing firm? How is that original?

It absolutely confounds me that the film won so many awards and so much critical acclaim. The only thing I can think of is that every once in a while an underdog movie captures the hearts of a ton of critics at the same time, and this one just happened to be that underdog this year.

Roger Ebert called it “a breathless, exciting story, heartbreaking and exhilarating.” I’m guessing he watched The Dark Knight by accident and then rated the wrong movie. Some idiot in the Wall Street Journal called it “the film world’s first globalized masterpiece.” Any way you decipher that sentence, it’s untrue.

I’ve only been so harsh because everyone else was so glowing in their praise for Slumdog. It’s not a bad movie, I promise. It’s just not nearly as good as everyone said it was.

IMDb: Slumdog Millionaire
Wikipedia: Slumdog Millionaire
Rating: R
(some violence, disturbing images, and language)
Length: 120 min (2:00)
Director: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan
Genre: Drama / Romance / Crime
My Rating: 7 of 10
Family Friendly: More so than you’d think from the rating
(much of the “violence and disturbing images” are inferred rather than explicit)
Dev Patel, Saurabh Shukla, Freida Pinto

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