Movie review: ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is worth the hype |

Movie review: ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is worth the hype

Charlie Owen
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado “-Everyone loves an underdog, and in this case the underdog just happens to be a slumdog, too.

“In Slumdog Millionaire” a poor Indian kid named Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), raised in the ghettos of Mumbai (formerly Bombay), gets his one chance to escape poverty and live in peace with the love of his life (Latika, played by Freida Pinto) when he makes it onto the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.” But no fairy tale comes without its villains, and as he finds himself one correct answer away from winning the game, the show’s host thinks he’s cheating and arranges for him to be taken to a local jail. At the jail, he is beaten and interrogated by police officers in an attempt to find out how he did so well on the show. This becomes the tool by which Jamal offers an explanation for every answer he got right.

One of the questions he is asked involves Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan and we are shown Jamal as a little kid wading through a literal dung heap to get an autograph from the Indian celebrity.

As his interrogation continues, we see more and more of Jamal’s life revealed in a series of often violent and comedic flashbacks that brutally show what the life of a slumdog is like. This sets Jamal up as the ultimate hero ” someone who has kept the faith through watching his mother die in a religious riot, his brother Salim (Madhur Mittal) and Latika betray him, his friend’s eyes burned out by gangsters and stealing from tourists just to eat. Nobody deserves the chance to win this money more than Jamal.

It sounds gimmicky, but who cares. It works and works well. In a film so well acted and directed (by Danny Boyle of “Trainspotting” fame), a lot can be forgiven, including the fact that a massive amount of “Slumdog Millionaire’s” plot devices depend on astronomical coincidence. Only at times does that actually stand in the way of the pure enjoyment that comes with watching this root-for-the-good-guy-and-hope-for-a-happy-ending masterpiece. Most of the time it’s just there, moving things along. And mad props go to the child actors who portray Jamal, Salim and Latika during their younger years. Though most of the credit goes to Patel, Pinto and Mittal for their much tougher job of emoting as adults, each of them has two other younger actors that carry the audience through their young lives and they are each stellar. Then there’s Prem Kumar (Anil Kapoor), the gameshow’s smug host, and perfect foil to Jamal’s humble personality. Some of the best parts in the film come when Kumar wincingly cheers Jamal on to victory with every correct answer even when it’s clear he wants him to loose.

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“Slumdog Millionaire” has been nominated for 10 Oscars, including best picture, and it definitely lives up to the hype. Everything in this film, down to the soundtrack, is excellent. In an age when so many unworthy films are shot on massive budgets and get little return at the box-office, “Slumdog Millionaire” was worth every penny of its meager $15 million budget.

High Life Writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or

Movie: “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Rated: R.

Directed by: Danny Boyle.

Starring: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Madhur Mittal and Anil Kapoor.

4 stars of 4

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