"Indian “Fairy Tale”"
What You Need To Know:
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is an enjoyable movie with action, adventure and romance. The story is uniquely told in flashback as Jamal must reveal how he knew the show’s answers. Jamal chooses to do the right thing in the story, but the movie contains some violence, foul language and references to his Muslim background.
(BB, FR, Pa, LL, VV, S, N, A, DD, MMM) Strong moral worldview where the main character chooses to do what’s right mixed with both a Muslim and Hindu outlook; 14 obscenities, two profanities, eight British obscenities and two sexually vulgar comments; strong violence, such as young boy is intentionally blinded, teenage boy shoots evil man, man shoots three other men, and fist fights among boys; no depicted sex but light references to teenage girl prostitution; lower rear male nudity of young boy; drinking of wine; smoking; and, lying, cheating, stealing, con games.
Set in India, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is the story of a young man, Jamal, who goes on the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” in hopes of not so much winning the money as winning the girl he loves. Accused of cheating on the show, Jamal recounts how he actually knew the trivia questions by telling his life story of growing up as an orphan on the streets along with his brother Salim and fellow orphan Latika.
As they grow older, Jamal falls in love with Latika, but she is stolen away by a crime lord. Salim becomes the strongarm thug for this crime lord while Jamal holds a menial job at the local call center. The lives of these three youth further entwine as the story builds to the end and Jamal is allowed back on the show to attempt to win the grand prize.
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is an enjoyable movie with a mix of action, adventure and romance. The story is uniquely told in flashback as Jamal must reveal how he knew the show’s answers. For instance, he knew who was on a U.S. hundred-dollar bill from when he was stealing from tourists and posing as a phony tour guide. The story of he, his brother and Latika is so engaging that even the police chief questioning him wants to know what happens next in the story.
The acting is superb as Jamal is seen as a young boy, a teenager and as a young man. There is much empathy with him, though especially as a young man his actions speak more than his expressions or words. The directing is terrific, telling the story in a unique way but without drawing attention to itself. The music is fun and lively, and there is the necessary “Bollywood-style” dance number over the end credits.
The movie warrants caution in a few areas. The first is the worldview is that of a group of Muslim kids and Jamal’s success is attributed at one point to the fact that “it is written.” This is a common Muslim expression to mean that it’s God’s will for one’s life. We know that God does direct our lives and has a will for each of us, but the context of this cultural fatalism is an Islamic one. The movie also shows strife between the Muslims and the Hindus.
As young boys and teenagers, Salim and Jamal often steal to eat and are involved in conning tourists. Salim is shown praying to Allah, asking him to forgive him for his sins, as he heads out to work for the thug. As a young man, however, Jamal becomes a better person who, unlike his brother, stays away from violence. Even the police chief agrees that Jamal is a truthful man.
Finally, there is violence in the world that Salim inhabits, and the story includes some minor foul language.
With discernment, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is an enjoyable movie for older audiences. It is filled with encouragement of the underdog winning.