review for Bend It Like Beckham on AllMovie

Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
by Michael Hastings review

Serving up Britcom clichés and genuine good heart in equal measure, Gurinder Chadha's culture-clash comedy is destined to win over all but the most cynical of audiences. Bend It Like Beckham doesn't offer any insights into Anglo-Indian issues -- racial, sexual, political, or otherwise -- that haven't already been better-covered by such filmmakers as Hanif Kureishi or Mira Nair. But it does seamlessly integrate its lighter-than-air girl-power agenda into the larger template of a screwball domestic comedy, complete with petty duplicities, a love triangle, and a climactic family wedding. Pushed along with snappy editing and a well-chosen pop soundtrack, the film buzzes by at a pleasant pace, and although the characters hem closely to their pre-ordained types (the sensible mother, the stubborn father, the impudent older sister), each is given enough screen time to make a sufficient emotional impact. None of this would work, however, without leads Parminder K. Nagra and Keira Knightley, whose easygoing rapport and apple-cheeked earnestness are a perfect fit with the movie's tone. For her part, director Chadha doesn't conjure up much visual poetry, but she does have a keen sense for the comically absurd: a throwaway shot of a gaggle of traditionally dressed Indian matriarchs digging for their cell phones -- in tandem -- is one of Beckham's best moments.