Slumdog Millionaire at the Little

Ali and I went to The Little (240 East Ave.) to see The Wrestler. Unfortunately, I had collected show-times from several weeks prior and didn't realize the Little changed them every week — we were a bit early as it was, and we'd have to wait about an hour. Instead, we opted to see Slumdog Millionaire.

The movie was quite good. In case you've been on a media vacation for the last 6 months, it's about a young man named Jamal who grew up in the slums of Mumbai, India. He has attained the position of serving tea at (if I remember correctly) a call center for-hire and gets his way onto the show Kaun Banega Crorepati?, the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.

The host of the show openly mocks his past — being a tea-server and growing up in the slums — and he is surprised that Jamal begins answering questions right. Every question, in fact. He's so surprised that he has Jamal taken to the police and interrogated. And here is where most of the film takes place: through flashback to events in his life to explain how he learned the answers.

In a way, it calls to the triviality of knowing trivia — that knowing the answers to arbitrary fact-based questions is not correlated with one's class, job, or past. Also, if someone has a wide breadth of experiences in their life, they will necessarily fare pretty well on such a contest, while those who typically excel have deliberately dedicated effort to the act of learning facts.

As the movie goes, the first act is full of the horrors of the slums, the second shows the ingenuity of Jamal, his brother, and another girl as they struggle to survive: all having lost their parents. The third act is sweet confection for the audience as it turns into a John Hughes film (his good ones in the 1980's, at least), complete with a musical montage (and with the added bonus of a Bollywood dance number over the credits).

Overall, I thought it was a good movie: enough substance to make it thought-provoking, all the while with an eye to entertainment.