Miss India America | Chicago Reader

Miss India America

98 minutes 2015

Most Hollywood teen comedies deliver the optimistic message that adolescents are capable of recognizing and redressing their defects before reaching adulthood. That's certainly true of this movie, which hews closely to Hollywood formula despite being an independent production. The heroine, Lily, is an 18-year-old overachiever so aggressive and selfish at the start of the film that she might remind you of Tracy Flick from Alexander Payne's Election. After encountering her ex-boyfriend on a date with a beauty queen, she impulsively enters the "Miss India Golden State" competition to prove she can't be outdone. You can probably guess where the story goes from there: Lily realizes that competing in a beauty pageant isn't as easy as she thought and that winning isn't so important after all. The filmmakers seem to regard the narrative formula as a pretext for introducing positive depictions of Indian-American women to movie comedy, so this features lessons about embracing Indian cultural heritage as well as some genial Bollywood in-jokes. Ravi Kapoor directed.

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