November 6, 2008

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The Other End of the Line (PG-13)
A girl with big dreams working at a call center in India falls for a guy with credit problems in America in The Other End of the Line, a silly but charming romantic comedy.

Priya Sethi (Shriya) is engaged to a young man from a very good family (as she is constantly being reminded) but she wants more. A customer service representative for a credit card company, she works nights in Mumbai (which are days in the U.S.) and talks as American as she can as Jennifer David, her phone name. It’s as Jennifer that she meets Granger Woodruff (Jesse Metcalfe), a credit card holder who is both an extravagant spender and a victim of identity fraud. Because he does like to shop, Granger and “Jennifer” have to go through his purchases item by item, a process that takes several calls and gives them a chance to get to know each other. Priya, who Googles Granger while they’re talking, thinks he has nice eyes and Granger is impressed by Priya’s suggestion for a cold remedy. When he finds himself headed to San Francisco on business (the city “Jennifer” claims to be in), Priya decides — in the impulsive spirit of rom-coms the world over — to go to America and try to meet her knight in shining platinum card.

Though it hits just about every romantic comedy cliché in the book — the meet cute, the mistaken identity, the party where the girl shows up in a smoking hot dress, the wacky comedy side plot — The Other End of the Line does actually dip a toe into some larger issues of culture (your marriage isn’t just about you, Priya’s mother tells her, it’s for the whole family) and generation (Priya is of the new generation of Indian workers and isn’t keen on giving it up to be a stay-at-home wife). And it doesn’t pretend to be cool. It knows it’s a big sugary icing-topped cookie. While Metcalfe (best known, probably, as the teen-gardener who is Mrs.-Robinsoned by Eva Longoria during the first season of Desperate Housewives) isn’t going to be replacing George Clooney in the suave heart-throb department any time soon, Shriya has enough of the smart-cookie-made-daffy-by-love likeability to keep us from tiring of these characters. B-

Rated PG-13 for some suggestive material. Directed by James Dodson and written by Tracey Jackson, The Other End of the Line is an hour and 46 minutes long and is distributed in limited release by MGM