Outsourced: Culture Clash and Hometown Success
With the build up to the new TV season happening, a spotlight should be thrown on a locally filmed and produced independent comedy, Outsourced.
Josh Hamilton plays a middle management office drone who works for a telemarketing company that sells patriotically American knick-knacks. His boss informs him that his entire division is going to be outsourced to India, and he will be forced to train his replacement there or lose his profit sharing as well as his job. The rest of the movie centers around the ensuing culture clash as he deals with getting the new office up to speed. From the first moments stepping off the plane, the main character has trouble adjusting.
This is a terrific modest film about people. It plays somewhat like Lost In Translation: Mumbai Edition, but that is selling the charms of this movie short. The positive comparison to Sofia Coppola’s film is that both movies deal with culture clash in an understated way that feels real. Hamilton’s character spends much of the running time silently reacting to indigestion from the local food, astonishment at some of the living conditions he witnesses, disgust at having to use his bare hand for toilet paper, and awe at the natural beauty around him.
A lot of the humor stems from his new trainees trying to get their mind wrapped around the American mindset. There is a hilarious scene where one of the telemarketers suggests she buy “rubbers” for her grandson’s birthday thinking he’s selling her erasers. They are coached on how to sound like they are from “Chi-caaa-go” so as not to irritate the red state mentality of the customers. Hamilton’s love interest in the movie, smartly played by Ayesha Dharker, asks of a hot dog toaster appliance “You American’s have more choice than anyone in the world; why would you choose this?”
Outsourced was locally produced, distributed, and partially shot here in Seattle. In one of the biggest local indie coups of recent memory, it has been picked up by NBC to be retooled as a half hour comedy this fall. They are fitting it into their Thursday night comedy line-up which should fit nicely with The Office and Community. For a small budget home-grown production, that is a massive popularity boon. Hopefully as it is being retooled for the small screen, the gentle humor and honesty of the film version isn’t lost. The main hope is that they steer away from “wacky” and “zany” by focusing on humor that extends from actual characters. The promo for the TV show looks promising.
The film version is available on Netflix streaming right now, so it would take minimal effort for you to check it out at this point. Most likely it is available at Scarecrow Video as well. No excuses, shop locally, highly recommended!
Final Grade: A-