Photo Courtesy of Cleveland Film Society

‘Good Ol’ Boy’ actors Anjul Nigam and Roni Akurati appeared with film director Frank Lotito at The Cleveland International Film Festival.


April 19, 2016

‘Good Ol’ Boy’is sweet start to film festival

The Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) opened its 40th anniversary year with the affectionate and charming family comedy/drama “Good Ol’ Boy.” Packed with 70s nostalgia, quirky humor and heart-warming moments, the 2015 film “Good Ol’ Boy” was a sweet start to the film festival.

Set in 1979, the Bhatnagars are an Indian family who immigrated to small-town America with the hopes of living the stereotypical “American Dream.”

Smith Bhatnagar’s (Roni Akurati) mom and dad, played by Poorna Jagannathan and Anjul Nigam respectively, have big plans in place for their 10-year-old son in the future: becoming a neurosurgeon and marrying a girl from India (whose photo is hilariously tacked onto their wall among various family photos). Smith’s parents wish for him to reach American success without becoming “too American.”

Smith, however, just wants to fit in with his American classmates, rather than being the “little Indian.”

Stuck in a traditional Indian lifestyle while yearning for American life, Smith falls for the girl-next-door–both figuratively and literally–Amy Brenner (Brighton Sharbino). Smith befriends Amy, who appreciates his family’s traditions and culture while the rest of the town (including her parents) doesn’t understand.

Butch Brenner (Jason Lee) plays the town’s Lone Ranger in his uniform of blue jeans riding around town in his beat-up pick-up. Butch doubles as the one person in town who encourages Smith to be his own person and follow his own destiny. Butch embraces Smith for who he is rather than the man he is to become when he grows up.

“Good Ol’ Boy” uses the Brenner family as an example of what true American life was like in the 70s. While the Bhatnagars strive toward achieving the American Dream, the Brenners struggle with paying the mortgage and keeping their family together.

Director Frank Lotito explores various family dynamics in “Good Ol’ Boy.” Though laced with quirky humor and laugh-out-loud comments from Smith’s traditional and somewhat-stern parents, moments arose when reaching for a tissue seemed like the most appropriate thing to do.

The film tackles themes of crossing bridges and returning to places (and people) you once called home. “Good Ol’ Boy” ties in family values and different versions of reality in America, as well as an entertaining ensemble guaranteed to charm.


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