One of the best things about being a “film critic” is discovering films that are so outside the “box” that it may as well not exist. Meet the Patels fits that description perfectly. A documentary, which the official site says started as a “home movie” that follows Ravi Patel’s search for the perfect mate. The film, directed by Ravi and his sister Geeta, is all about tradition, dating, creating new traditions and is chock full of comedic moments.
This brother/sister team look at the question of traditional and cultural problems with dating outside ones ethnicity in a different country. Soon-to-be 30, Ravi begins to panic that he has not found his “someone.” Dating a white girl for two years, something he kept a secret from “the parents” Ravi breaks off the relationship to search for a first generation Indian/American.
Meet the Patels documents Ravi’s search for a lifelong companion and the telling is done with an abundance of comedy and revelations. As Ravi says in the film:
“You know that girl in Eat, Pray, Love? She goes through a break up, goes on the existential journey to India to get over depression, find out what she really wanted in life?
I was that girl. Except, my family was with me the entire time.”
Meet the Patels allows the viewer to be there as well to see Ravi’s journey to find his perfect partner. While sister Geeta, as cinematographer, spends the vast majority of the film behind the lens and not in front of it she is also a presence throughout the film. Also making appearances is Ravi’s secret girlfriend Audrey Wauchope who is seen through older video footage and later turns up as a more current part of the documentary.
The message of the film, delivered via warm, and hysterically funny, moments that will make the viewer helpless with laughter, is that new traditions are born of necessity and that geographical locations may be an important factor in cultural adherence but is not a “deal breaker.” Perhaps the most important thing learned from this sibling production about love and family is that “the parents” will love whoever the two pick because:
“Your happiness is our happiness.”
Meet the Patels reveals what it means to be a Patel and that humor, and love, can indeed overcome all obstacles. This movie, which does feel more like a home movie than a “serious” documentary will make the viewer fall in love with the entire Patel clan.
As a long time fan of all things Bollywood, this reviewer found the footage dealing with the marriage ceremonies delightfully epic and funny. The costumed pageantry of the celebrants and the music are evocative of films watched in England on Sunday afternoons where the women are all beautiful and everyone breaks into song and dance irrespective of the film’s genre.
Ravi is an American actor, his credits include Grandfathered, Past Life and Super Fun Night, amongst others and his ease in front of the camera helps make his story of searching for matrimonial bliss entertaining and funny. His sister Geeta is a “Jill of all trades” in the industry having worked as director, producer and writer on various projects. Meet the Patels is her third major project as director and second feature length documentary.
This brother/sister team, who welcome the world into their family’s traditions, heritage and culture have made a film that is a real treat. Meet the Patels is easily the funniest “feel good film” on offer in 2015. The goodnatured humor begins with the very first frames of “real” footage (although the animated portion of the introductory scenes are amusing) where Ravi pokes fun at his sister’s camera operating skills.
What helps is that the entire extended Patel family are a splendid combination of endearing, funny and genuine. This is the documentary, that began life as a “vacation video” to be watched by anyone who has relationship issues (or not) and needs cheering up.
Meet the Patels (the documentary) is the most fun you will have watching a film this year. This film is a wonderful mixture of animated hilarity mixed with a family who exude good humor and brilliant comedic timing. Miss this and miss the best comedy movie of the year.