Death, eh? Apparently it’s the only real certainty. Listen to most learned men and philosophers and they’ll usually agree on one thing: That cold skeletal hand could be on your shoulder any day now, so you’d better get move on and enjoy yourself. Be thankful then that you’ve clicked on this review and (hopefully) saved yourself from wasting a couple of hours of your personal march to the grave on this turgid comedy.
The story is of an Indian family living in North West London. The father has passed on, leaving his wife with the unenviable task of marrying off their overweight, feminist daughter. Paranoid that she too will have left this earth before it is done, the mother begins exacting brutal, murderous revenge on anyone with the gall to reject the apple of her eye.
Saying that out loud it actually sounds like a passable plot for a grim suburban horror movie. Unfortunately for the viewer, its actually a threadbare supernatural rom-com that has clearly graduated from the My Family school of uninspired humour.
I’ve no problem with a film looking cheap, indeed that can often add a rustic charm to proceedings. Here though, the effects are used so ineffectively it made me feel like I was watching TV special on ITV4.
The cast comprise a mixture of old heads and young hopefuls and are all as uninspired as the other. Sanjeev Baskar pulls his well worn loud, obnoxious Asian guy routine and Heroes’ Sendhil Ramamurthy is bland as bland can be. Sally Hawkins, who won a lot of admirers with her performance in Happy Go Lucky struggles valiantly with shoddy material and is probably the film’s highlight, although that isn’t saying an awful lot.
Strangely, this mostly damp squib of a movie contains one scene of such high quality that if the entire film lived up to such a standard, I’d right now be typing a review of the best British comedy since Shaun of the Dead. I shan’t spoil it here, but its one of the most unexpected and glorious homages to a horror classic I’ve ever encountered and it very nearly saves the film.
Moments like this make It’s A Wonderful Afterlife a frustrating viewing experience. There’s clearly potential bubbling away under the surface, but its stilted by the lax script and sub-par execution. The attempted satire of traditional Indian values is blunted significantly by half-hearted slapstick and unconvincing dialogue, making for a highly unsatisfying movie experience.
Overall Verdict: Lacks the charm of Chadha’s previous efforts. A shallow, uninspiring comedy that’s probably best avoided.
Reviewer: Alex Hall