(director/writer: Sara Zandieh; screenwriters: Lilly Singh, Neel Patel; cinematographer: Jason Oldak; editor: Jon Philpot; music: Tom Westin, Zachary Greer; cast: Mary Holland (racist teacher), Sabrina Jalees (Jess, lesbian friend), Stephanie Beatrix (Barbara), Jessica Clement (Madison), Cas Anvar (Farhad), Lilly Singh (Maya), Celine Joseph (Young Maya), Amanda Barker (Mrs. Wyatt), Samantha Helt (The Woman), Christian Martyn (Kyle, all-talk-jock), Ana Gasteyer (Principal), Trevor Salter (Alex, coach), Sonia Dhillon Tully (Veena), Usha Uppal (Nani), Utkarsh Ambudkar (Nani as a man, love interest for Maya), Andrew Bushell (Kevin), Nicole Amber Farrugia (Female Student); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Polly Auritt, Anthony Bregman, Anita Verma-Lallian, Erica Martin; Likely Story; 2024)

“Left me in the mood to see another film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Sara Zandieh (“The Other Zoey”/”A Simple Wedding”) directs and co-writes with Neel Patel
and the film’s star Lilly Singh this forced comedy. It’s an Indian American cultural version of the better 2014 Haley Joel Osment comedy “Sex Ed.”

After the conservative single mom (Sonia Dhillon Tully) catches her teenage daughter Maya (Celine Joseph) exposing her private parts with the boy Nani (Usha Uppal), she brings the family back to India. Many years later the virgin unmarried computer engineer Maya (Lilly Singh) returns to America and is hired as a sub high school teacher. The principal (Ana Gasteyer) assigns the sexually repressed Maya to be a sex ed teacher following an abstinence-based curriculum.

Sabrina Jalees is Maya’s lesbian friend Jess. Stephanie Beatriz is the zany lunchroom lady. Mary Holland is the uptight racist teacher. The grown up Nani (Utkarsh Ambudkar) and the school coach (Trevor Salter), are potential love interests.

The film has gags (some are funny, most are not). It tells of the divide between the parent immigrants and their children. Singh creates an original song and gives a star performance.

The raunchy comedy wants to say something about being positive about sex but flounders the opportunity by instead engaging in shock comedy. It’s subject matter I’ve seen covered better many times before and felt no reason to see this version except if I wanted to see Indian American families tackle the subject.

The film left me in the mood to see another film.

It played at the SXSW Film Festival.

REVIEWED ON 4/29/2024  GRADE: C+