Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Name is Khan

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

My Name is Khan - 4 out of 5

First off, I guess I have to state that this movie is NOT a documentary about the villain from Star Trek II. Instead, My Name is Khan is a Bollywood film about a young man named Rizwan Khan living with Asperger's Syndrome who eventually leaves his home of Mumbai and starts a life for himself in San Francisco. There he falls in love with a woman and starts to form a future with her until the events of September 11th throws his world upside-down. Anti-Muslim sentiments from people who are 100% likely to love Toby Keith and probably own American flag themed underpants and think it's patriotic to do so, start to cause trouble for the likes of Khan and his family. Members of his faith are targeted and his own step-son is murdered. The pain and grief of the loss causes a rift between Khan and his wife and he decides to find the President and inform him that he is NOT a terrorist.

The film is very emotional and paints a pretty accurate picture of how paranoid and racist our country became after the awful events of September the 11th. The love story between Khan and the lovely Mandira is also wonderfully put together but ultimately the film feels like two separate stories squeezed together to create an extra long film (but then again, it is a Bollywood film and they like 'em long--seriously, this movie is almost 3 hours). One story is the love between Mandira and Khan and the other is Khan's journey to meet the President. Because each story could have been a movie all by its own, the film will tend to drag in the middle and towards the end--although it starts terrifically, instantly grabbing my attention.

What also hurts this film is how far fetched the movie progressively becomes. While grounded in reality in the beginning of the film, the movie ends up becoming a Bollywood version of Forrest Gump and Khan enters into near superhero-like status as he falsely accused of being a terrorist and ends up becoming a media darling as he puts these troubles behind him--as well as his mission to meet the President--on the back-burner so he can help out victims of a hurricane. The way the film exponentially gets "larger-than-life" ends up hurting the emotional content of the story. While it still pulls at the heart-strings (seriously, this movie made me tear up a couple of times) it goes from being something that feels real, to something that feels more like a Dollar Menu emotional film--it starts to feel more Disney, than reality. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it does make the film seem a little cheesier than it originally started out as.

Shah Rukh Khan plays the young man suffering with Asperger's and does it amazingly. His performance is terrific and hypnotic. And this performance is mirror by Kajol, who plays Khan's wife; Mandira. However, some supporting players can't match up the level that these two deliver. Overacting from some younger characters and some law enforcement individuals are quick to throw you out of the story but Shah Rukh Khan's performance is so powerful, that once these scenes pass, he quickly pulls you back in.

While the film is longer than it needed to be because of the feel of two stories smashed together to make one long film and its sudden fantastic turn is a bit jarring, the performances of some great actors as well as the emotion displayed and the social commentary the film makes about a post-9/11 America definitely makes My Name is Khan a movie to watch.

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