Published Mar 17, 2011Part of the charm, or at least curiosity, of the original wildly unstructured and tonally undisciplined comedy East is East was its casual inclusion of wife beating, child abuse, nudity and vagina sculptures, despite being ostensibly a film about family values amidst cultural dysphoria. Its manic sensibilities and seemingly random storylines managed laughs through sheer shock and bewilderment.
This unnecessary continuation can't boast anything quite as unique, taking a far more wholesome and rounded (read: predictable and tired) approach to enlightenment and coming-of-age tedium, which, of course, exists only in the East.
Taking place five years after the original, West is West finds the youngest son of the Khan clan, Sajib (Aqib Khan), racially bullied at school and demonstrating overall despondent teen angst (you don't say?), which inevitably leads to self-righteous intervention on the part of tyrannical family patriarch George (Om Puri). Dragging his son off to Pakistan to stay with first wife Basheera (Ila Arun) ― a character alluded to in the first film, but never seen ― they both learn lessons of prejudice, consequence and, of course, pompous spiritual preaching.
Since nothing particularly funny happens this time around, beyond the occasional fish-out-of water kookiness of a sullen British kid confronted with Asian weddings and saucy camels, we're left with heart-warming life lessons to carry the weight of the film. And while some solid moments come from the struggle to find common ground, such a scene where George's current wife, Ella (Lynda Bassett), discusses their situation with first wife Basheera, it's mostly just white noise.
Fortunately, solid efforts are made to exploit the scenery, given the locale shift from Salford side streets to Asian countryside. So, even though there isn't much of a reason for this movie to exist, it at least looks good while filling up time. (D Films)