Thursday, April 21, 2011

Outsourced

NetFlix
IMDB
My Rating: 6/10  

 When his department is outsourced to India, customer call center manager Todd Anderson (Josh Hamilton) heads to Mumbai to train his successor (Asif Basra), and amusing culture clashes ensue as Anderson tries to explain American business practices to the befuddled new employees. In the process, he learns important lessons about globalization -- and life. Ayesha Dharker and Matt Smith also star in director John Jeffcoat's cross-cultural comedy.
File under "Movies to watch when your wife absolutely refuses to watch another monster movie".   It's a good little indie comedy that isn't as fluffy as the description makes it sound, to its credit. It's also amusingly outdated now - It was made back in 2005 when moving your call centers to India and China was all the rage to save money, whereas now a lot of companies have started bringing their tech help lines back home due to customer backlash and lingual difficulties. Our hero's call center is shut down and he's shipped to India to train their Indian replacements. Along the way he has a lot of typical expat experiences with local food and local customs, and there's plenty of scenes that will make any traveler wince in familiarity as he trounces over some cherished local manners or customs in ignorance.

It has a lot of laughs, too, more so than my still-reigning favorite expat movie "Lost in Translation". But there's also a fair bit of insight into the cultures as it goes from him explaining why anyone would want a Wisconsin cheese hat to them demonstrating exactly why a $300/month salary is a HUGE step up for them. And a lot of it feels real, which is more than I can say for most romanticized expat movies. If this had been a Hollywood flick I suspect it would have been sentimentalized to death, but as it is, it's an enjoyably low key effort that was more similar in tone to an Indian "Local Hero" than something that would star Robin Williams. 



Suggested Accompaniment: There is a great dearth of Indian artisan pipemakers and artisan tobacco blenders in the world.  But Orville's Tender White popcorn will do as a sufficient stand-in till better conditions are reached.