Saturday, February 22, 2020

U.S. VOD debut for a quite enjoyable guilty pleasure: Ken Scott's adaptation of THE EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF THE FAKIR

Don't worry if you can't recall the theatrical release of THE EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF THE FAKIR (WHO GOT TRAPPED IN A WARDROBE) -- the parenthetical section makes it way too long for billboards, even though it is based on an international best-seller by Romain Puertolas (unread by yours truly). The finished movie, however, proves surprisingly enjoyable in just about every way. Gorgeous to view (its settings include London, Mumbai, France, Belgium and Italy) and proficiently written, directed and acted, the finished film is simply, well, a treat, featuring a tale that is just about perfect for this kind of travelog/rom-com.

As directed (with some screenplay collaboration) via writer/director Ken Scott, left, just about everything falls into place so beautifully that you can just relax and go with things. There is a sweetness and genuineness about everything here that allows you give over, and Mr. Scott milks this for all its worth, even as he never condescends to characters, actions or audience.

After a very limited US theatrical release at the start of summer 2019, the film will soon be available on VOD, and TrustMovies bets that most audiences who appreciate this kind of thing will not at all be disappointed. In fact, I should think they will eat it up and recommend it to their friends and relatives, too.

Its star -- no, not Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire), who is just too big now to do this sort of movie any longer -- is played by an actor with the single name of  Dhanush (above and below), whose character's last name is also Patel (yes, it's a common one in India).  Dhanush is a consistent delight: good-looking and sexy (but smart enough not to push these in the least), and every bit as good at conning folk as he in in getting them to love him (while loving them in return). You just can't get angry at this guy, nor would you even want to.

The supporting cast is aces, as well: From Erin Moriarty (below, of Amazon's naughty superhero series, The Boys) as his love-at-first sight, to France's Bérénice Bejo (two photos below) as a famous actress, who is as kind to our boy as you would be, too, had you the wherewithal, and Gérard Jugnot as a smart, funny Paris cab driver who helps both him and his would-be lover.

Everyone, down to the smallest role, joins in the fun. There's a moment toward the finale, as our hero runs from the character who comes as close to a villian as does anyone in the film. That character happens to pass a pair of policemen as he runs, and call out a greeting to one of them, who returns  that greeting. Not only does this moment speak volumes about the state of Italy (where the scene is set), it offers the kind of oddball, funny delight that Extraordinary Journey provides over and over again.

In another important role is Captain Phillips' Barkhad Abdi (below, right), playing, yes, another immigrant with class, finesse and no special pleading. Sure, the movie hardly gives immigration the weight and seriousness it deserves. On the other hand, it is pleasant to see it used in a manner in which our hero, himself an immigrant, begins to actually find himself.

A word must also be said for the what-the-hell? musical number given us by Ben Miller as a British immigration cop with rhythm, and another for the nod to Bollywood by Dhanush and Bejo (below) as they dance their hearts out, along with the whole crowd in a night club.  Fun? Absolutely!

Actually the word "pleasant" pretty much describes this whole movie. You could hardly find a better antidote to much of what rankles the U.S. and western world today -- even if it is, of course, nowhere near real. Ah, escape! When will we settle for something more meaningful? Maybe when we actually find a way to get it -- instead of simply watching it. So vote for Bernie or Elizabeth, Democrats. If we don't get real, progressive change in our upcoming election, we might as well toss in the towel.

Released to VOD via the The Comedy Dynamics Network and running just 97 minutes, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir hits home video this coming Tuesday, February 25 -- for purchase and (I hope) rental.

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