"Outsourced" | A journey from Seattle to India to epiphany
A year from now, the title "Outsourced" might be closely linked to another Owen Wilson-Vince Vaughn comedy currently going by that name...
Special to The Seattle Times
98 minutes. Rated PG-13 for some sexual content. Several theaters. For a story on ShadowCatcher Entertainment, see www.seattletimes.com.
A year from now, the title "Outsourced" might be closely linked to another Owen Wilson-Vince Vaughn comedy currently going by that name and scheduled for a 2008 release. Before that happens, however, try taking in the low-key charms of a different "Outsourced," this one produced by Seattle company ShadowCatcher Entertainment ("Smoke Signals") and partially set in the Emerald City.
Co-written by George Wing ("50 First Dates") and John Jeffcoat — the latter also making his feature debut as a director — "Outsourced" is a thoughtful satire that looks at the human face beyond contemporary frustrations associated with the global economy.
Josh Hamilton ("The House of Yes") stars as Todd Anderson, vice president of customer relations for a Seattle company that sells phone-order, patriotic kitsch. Part of Todd's job is keeping his operators' order-taking time down to a few minutes. He's good at what he does, but that doesn't stop the company from outsourcing Todd's entire department to somewhere in India, where local workers can field customer calls more cheaply.
A reluctant Todd is sent to the subcontinent to train his own replacement and get the new operators up to speed. Neither task goes well, but adding to Todd's frustration is culture shock over everything from Indian table manners to public transportation to minimal bathroom fixtures.
We've seen this particular fish-out-of-water tale before, in TV's "Northern Exposure" and such features as "Local Hero" and "Doc Hollywood." The gentle but illuminating "Outsourced" proves the story, as long as it's told well, never gets old.
As with its predecessors, Todd eventually realizes the best way to escape India and get back to Seattle, ironically, is to let go of his resistance to India's culture and people. Transformation precedes liberation, but the lovely question in Wing and Jeffcoat's script is that once Todd is transformed, what does he need to be liberated from?
The film's deliberate, carefully paced narrative can't obscure the sense of epiphany that permeates "Outsourced." Nor can some of its other delights — Jeffcoat's assured location shooting and a fine supporting cast, including a wry Ayesha Dharker as Todd's romantic interest and a brief appearance by Larry Pine as a kind of older, more serene version of the disoriented central character.
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org
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