Movie News & Reviews

In ‘Meet the Patels,’ old and new collide: 3 stars

The Patels are (from left): Ravi, parents Champa and Vasant, and his sister and co-director, Geeta.
The Patels are (from left): Ravi, parents Champa and Vasant, and his sister and co-director, Geeta.

Rated PG. Time: 1:28.

The modern age of contemporary dating comes up hard against the ages-old tradition of arranged marriages in “Meet the Patels,” an often uproariously comedic and ultimately poignant documentary about one man’s quest to meet The One.

The man in question is nearly-30 Ravi Patel, an Indian-American comic/actor who, along with his sister/co-director Geeta, decides to film his efforts.

Fresh from breaking up with his white American girlfriend, he decides he wants someone who shares his culture. He hits online dating sites aimed at Indian-Americans and a convention only for people named Patel, though he mostly lets his parents — who are frantic to find mates for both Ravi and Geeta — look for someone.

After years of dismissing arranged relationships, Ravi decides he might as well give it a try.

The amount of time and money the elder Patels spend in this pursuit — flying Ravi from L.A. to Dallas to Florida to Toronto for dates — is dizzying. And that’s not even including the elaborate, computerized system of “bio-data” (physical characteristics, profession, education, family background, etc.) the parents have on each of their choices. Forget the NSA, it’s the Patels who have everyone’s information.

While the parents may at first seem authoritarian and rigid — their marriage was arranged after a brief, 10-minute meeting — their humanity and warmth are allowed to shine through in “Meet the Patels.” They quickly move from demanding to endearing.

Through it all, “Meet the Patels” ends up being much more than a movie about a guy going out on dates. It’s about shifting identities, parental expectations and trying to hold on to a life raft of tradition in a swirling sea of change.

And it’s pretty funny, too.

(At Cinetopia, Studio 28, Tivoli.)

Cary Darling,

Fort Worth Star-Telegram