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Meet-The-Patels-e1437091362227“MEET THE PATELS” My rating: B

88 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

I was prepared to give “Meet the Patels” a chilly reception just on principle.

After all, here’s a release that looks suspiciously like a home movie…a home movie that meets everyone’s cliched expectations about the behavior of Americans of East Indian descent.

Okay, I was wrong.  I ended up thoroughly enjoying this goofy, warm, borderline heart-tugging documentary from the brother/sister team of Ravi and Geeta Patel.

And if it sometimes looks like a home movie…well, that’s part of its charm.

Our subject is co-director Ravi Patel, a modestly successful Hollywood actor who, as this documentary begins, is rapidly approaching the age of 30. Though born in the U.S.A., Ravi comes from a traditional Hindu family and the pressure is on for him to marry a nice Indian girl — preferably one also named Patel (it’s a clan thing) — and start producing grandkids.

The Woody Allen-ish Ravi reveals (sometimes in conversation with his unseen older sister Geeta, who’s manning the camera) that his dating history is sketchy at best. He’s rarely had success with American girls, though he did enjoy a two-year relationship which he kept a secret from his family lest they go bonkers because he was seeing a woman who wasn’t an Indian American. Eventually the romance collapsed (you can’t blame the girl…who wants to be a dirty secret?).

Now he agrees to allow his parents, Champa and Vasant, to do the whole matchmaking thing.  Ravi doesn’t want an arranged marriage –though he admits that his parents, who knew each other for all of a week before becoming engaged, are the happiest couple he knows.  Rather, he will submit to a complicated process meant to hook him up with an appropriate Hindu girl.  Both he and the women will have the right of refusal.

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