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Overall Rating

Awesome: 33.33%
Worth A Look60%
Just Average: 0%
Pretty Crappy: 6.67%
Sucks: 0%

1 review, 9 user ratings

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by Peter Sobczynski

"How Can I Stop"
4 stars

There are many words that could be used to describe “Kites” in a review--indeed, even the trusty Oxford English Dictionary almost seems inadequate for such a task--but “boring” is most definitely not one of them. This is a lush and lavish Bollywood-via-Vegas-and-Mexico melodrama that not only includes such disparate elements as star-crossed lovers, over-the-top villains, heaving bosoms, chases, shootouts, immigrations scams, dance contests, a casino where you really don’t want to be caught counting cards, multiple languages, cars that explode into enormous fireballs at the slightest touch, an escape via hot air balloon, dancing in the rain, outrageously purple dialogue along the lines of “Money can buy you happiness as long as you know where to shop”), shadow puppets, bank robberies, a mid-film pause featuring a trailer for the new Aishwarya Rai epic, a classic bright red Cadillac convertible, bizarre homages to both Charlie Chaplin’s immortal “The Gold Rush” and Clint Eastwood’s slightly-less-immortal “The Rookie,” a hilariously unsubtle plug for Calvin Klein underwear and a finale so astonishingly shameless that even Nicholas Sparks might be moved to say “Oh, come on. . .!,” but manages to do so in the service of the story where they all somehow fit together in one semi-coherent whole. Let me put it this way--you may walk out of it adoring it for its audaciousness or stalk out thinking that it is one of the silliest things that you have ever seen in your entire life but I guarantee that you won’t walk out of it thinking that you have seen it all before.

As the film opens, a train arrives in a remote Mexican town and when one of the cars is opened, a grievously wounded man tumbles out. After getting stitched up, he walks off into the desert while someone helpfully calls out “I hope you find the love of your life.” The story them flashes back to three months earlier and we discover that the man is J (Hrithik Roshan), a two-bit Hindi hustler struggling to make a living in Las Vegas by working as a dance instructor and participating in the occasional immigration scam in which he agrees, for a fee, to “marry” women in order to help them acquire a green card. One night, one of his dance students, Gina (Kangana Ranaut) makes a mad and impassioned declaration of her undying love for him. At first, J brushes her off--which is understandable since she made the declaration after having broken into his apartment--but when he discovers that she is the daughter of an incredibly wealthy casino owner, he decides to look upon her as a reasonably attractive gravy train and they become a couple. One weekend, her parents invite them out to their beach house for the weekend to celebrate the engagement of their hotheaded son, Tony (Nicholas Brown), to a beautiful Mexican woman named Natasha (Barbara Mori). At this point, you are probably thinking to yourself that you know exactly what is going to happen--that J and Natasha will fall in love at first sight and will try to run away together while the hotheaded and insanely jealous Tony will stop at nothing to get her back. Well, smarty pants, that isn’t the case at all--it turns out that J and Natasha already met earlier when she “married” him in order to get into the country and that he has carried a torch for her ever since. Bet you feel foolish now for jumping to conclusions like that, don’t you.

As you can probably guess from just the brief summary that I have offered above (and I have left a lot out in order to preserve many of the nuttier developments on display), “Kites” starts off as one of the most ridiculous things to come along in recent memory and only proceeds to get nuttier and nuttier as it goes along. If I were to apply normal critical standards to the film, I would observe that the story is an overly convoluted mess with enough plot for six or seven separate movies with enough left over for a healthy deleted scenes section on each of the DVDs, that director Anurag Basu approaches his craft in much the same manner as the guy who used to go on Ed Sullivan and spin plates on sticks--the effort to keep everything in the air is so great that everything else winds up falling by the wayside--and that all of the actors have been encouraged to find one single note for their characters and bang on it relentlessly for the entire film. And yet, in the case of a film like “Kites,” these elements turn out to be virtues because a great deal of the fun to be had for it comes from its sheer willingness to entertain viewers by any and all means necessary and with subtlety be damned--the lurid excess is just one of its many charms. Yes, the story is ridiculously overstuffed with unexpected developments, shocking reveals and the like but after seeing too many recent movies in which absolutely nothing notable happens, it is a blessed relief to come across one in which too much happens instead. As a director, Basu may not show any discernible restraint or nuance here but he tells his story with a lot of style and humor and heedless energy and in a film like this, those qualities are far more valuable in the long run. And while the performances on display will not go down as pinnacles in the craft of acting anytime soon, the actors know that they are playing broad caricatures instead of detailed characters and let loose with entertaining turns that are perfectly in tune with the film’s deliriously over-scaled approach.

“Kites” is utter lunacy from start to finish and I have to admit that I was alternately charmed and dumbfounded by it throughout. At the same time, I recognize that many practical-minded viewers are liable to write it off as a weird and undisciplined mess based simply on reviews like this without even giving it a chance. However, when you consider that such hard-sell blockbusters as “Iron Man 2,” “Robin Hood” and “Shrek Forever After” have already failed to give viewers anything more than extra helpings of the same old stuff and that the rest of the major summer offerings, with the possible exceptions of “Inception” and “Toy Story 3,” look equally uninspiring, it looks as though moviegoers thirsting for something a little more fresh and distinctive at the multiplex are going to have to go off the reservation. “Kites” may be a mess but it is a hugely entertaining mess with charms that most viewers, with the possible exception of those living in Arizona, will instantly respond to regardless of whether they have ever seen a Bollywood film before or not.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=20346&reviewer=389
originally posted: 05/21/10 01:00:00
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User Comments

2/19/11 porfle John, it's "J" in the Bollywood version subtitles. Anyway, I loved it 4 stars
11/03/10 john his name is Jay not J. awsome entertainer 5 stars
5/31/10 Sandip Its an introduction of Hrithik Roshan to the Hollywood. 5 stars
5/26/10 Jeff Garcia Beautiful Movie! 5 stars
5/24/10 Subhor Khanna Catch the review by an Indian critic on musingsbysubhor.blogspot.com 2 stars
5/23/10 Abhimanyu beautifully awesome! each frame shot beautifully!Hrithik and Barbara fanatastic duo! awesum 5 stars
5/22/10 Anu Entertaining and guilty pleasure!! 4 stars
5/22/10 Shardul Surte I just saw this movie on a wide 70mm screen in Pune, India. In one word - "Brilliant!". 5 stars
5/22/10 Patricia and Alan Brown Kites, a most entertaining film with three handsome starts: Natasha, J & Tony. 4 stars
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  DVD: 15-Feb-2011


  DVD: 15-Feb-2011

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