Starring Reece Ritchie, Amara Karan. Written by Ayub Khan-Din, based on a play by Bill Naughton. Directed by Nigel Cole. PG. 94 Min. Opens Feb. 8.
The great sage Will Smith told us that “parents just don’t understand,” and these words apply to the elders in the British comedy All in Good Time. Hearing that their son, Atul (Reece Ritchie), and his new bride, Vina (Amara Karan), have had their exotic honeymoon in Goa cancelled, Eeshwar (Harish Patel) and Lopa (Meera Syal) offer the young couple free lodging in their apartment in Bolton (near Manchester) while they start their lives together. It’s a nice gesture, but the parental units fail to realize that their presence is more annoying than comforting—especially when the kids are trying to find a moment to consummate their marriage.
Nigel Cole’s film has great casting going for it: Patel and Syal are both amusing as busybodies puzzling over the marital troubles brewing in the next bedroom, and Ritchie and Karan are attractive and likeable as the newlyweds. There’s also rich potential in a scenario that finds this second-generation English-Indian couple butting up against Hindi traditionalism. The problem here is a schematic script that forces the characters to behave in ways that strain credibility. It’s hard to believe, for instance, that Atul and Vina would be so flummoxed in their situation, or that Eeshwar could be so oblivious to his own jocular obnoxiousness.
There are a lot of complications in All in Good Time, but it never really feels like anything is at stake. Cole, who also directed the gentle farces Saving Grace and Made in Dagenham, is content to play it safe once again: The tone is cute and innocuous. This may be a savvy commercial choice, but it prevents the film from coming into focus either as a relatable story of intergenerational conflict or as a commentary on cross-cultural issues (as in screenwriter Ayub Khan-Din’s previous and superior East is East).