On Friday, “The Lunchbox,” a dramatic film, will join
“Bad Words,” a comedy released March 28, in local
theaters. Both movies are reviewed below with their ratings.
Batra’s “The Lunchbox” is a simple movie, but a
thoughtful and delightful one. Filmed in Mumbai and subtitled,
it deals with the Indian custom of preparing lunches, then
delivering them via courier to workers on the job.
outset, a young woman whose marriage is on shaky ground
attempts to steady it by making her husband the lunch to beat
all others. The meal is mistakenly delivered to an aging
widower who much appreciates the dishes he thinks are from a
restaurant with which he’s contracted.
long, the mistake becomes obvious to both parties. They
continue giving and receiving food, however, and also start
sending each other notes inside the food containers. The notes
become increasingly personal.
of “The Lunchbox” might be expressed in a line voiced by a
couple of its actors: “Sometimes the wrong train will get
you to the right station.”
the message is that love is transformative and comes in such
guises as heartfelt advice, charitable action, kindly
encouragement and even the occasional white lie.
of a couple randomly tossed together (with a subplot
concerning the curmudgeonly male half’s dealings with an
ingratiating work assistant) never disappoints, thanks to the
acting of Nimrat Kaur as the cook, Irrfan Khan as the
curmudgeon and Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the co-worker.
likable cast members we experience love and loss, aging and
death, self-reinvention and the need for human companionship,
as well as more mundane aspects of contemporary Indian life.
spell sophomoric? Hackneyed? Tasteless?
Words” takes place at and around spelling bees, but the
three adjectives in the previous paragraph aren’t intended
to show the level of competition. They’re meant to assess
the quality of Jason Bateman’s first directed film.
also stars (but displays little range) in “Bad Words,”
speaking plenty of them - a whole lot more than anybody needs
to hear. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about this
movie is that it’s relatively short.
individual who never graduated from elementary school (yet was
judged a genius by his school counselor and became a
proofreader), Bateman’s Guy Trilby, 40, is eligible to
compete with grade schoolers in spelling bees. It’s a
promising premise, although Trilby’s reason for competing is
revenge. Viewers are expected to be delighted as the worst of
the movie’s several repugnant characters boozes it up,
corrupts a 10-year-old fellow competitor (Rohan Chand) who has
sought his friendship, plays awful tricks on other young
rivals and treats the journalist who is his No. 1 supporter
downright shabbily. (The journalist is played by Kathryn Hahn,
who, along with Allison Janney as a spelling bee director
deserves better material.)
character, Chaitanya Chopra, is Indian - enabling screenwriter
Andrew Dodge to have Trilby call the boy “Slumdog” and
threaten to “slaughter (him) like a sacred cow” at the
National Quill Spelling Bee. A cameo in which a stripper plies
her trade supplements the ethnic insensitivity and pervasive
movie’s end, the National Quill’s snarling head honcho
(Philip Baker Hall) remarks that, because of the abundance of
ill will generated by Trilby’s participation, the
competition “has devolved into an embarrassment.” As they
say, join the club. “Bad Words” had devolved into an
embarrassment a good hour earlier.