Films like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Mambo Italiano and now Where's the Party, Yaar? flaunt an "ain't them foreigners funny" mentality that passes poorly written scripts for post-PC wit.
Of the three, Party proves the weakest. The film begins as young Hari (Sunil Malhorta) departs India for college in Houston. A mystic predicts he'll find his soulmate in the States. Instead he meets a reluctant tour guide in his "cousin" Mohan (Kal Penn), a spoiled and thoroughly Americanized playa with no time to baby-sit a FOB (Fresh Off the Boat) houseguest. Predictable culture shock ensues for nerdy Hari, with ample jokes about deodorant and Chai.
Before things devolve into a two-hour episode of "Perfect Strangers," Mohan falls for sassy film student Janvi (Serena Varghese), whose documentary project provides a convenient vehicle for the filmmakers to indulge in a soapbox segment about the diversity of South Asian Americans. The movie peeks around a couple of almost-fascinating points, including a funny take on post-9-11 paranoia among Indians and an eye-opening look at how minority members who are assimilated into the popular culture discriminate against their too-ethnic brethren.
Where's the Party, Yaar? wants to be a zany John Hughes-esque coming-of-age tale, sort of a Sixteen Candles with curry on top. But it ends up poorly mimicking some Annette Funicello/Frankie Avalon vehicle, with boorish stock characters, a convoluted romantic plot and gong-takes galore.
With its nods to (or parodies of) the windblown musical numbers prevalent in Bollywood romances, and random other partly obscure cultural references, the comedy aims for a young, brash Desi crowd who'll empathize with conflicted Mohan. Yet the Indian jokes feel more like Little Black Sambo humor than sharp satire of a cultural divide. A sitcom that can't quite take down its targeted sacred cows, this botched party only leaves the question, What's the Point, Yaar? Now playing at Landmark's Midtown Art Cinema.
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