MISAFF 2017: Our Review of ‘Keeping up with the Kandasamy’s’

Posted in Festival Coverage, MISAFF 2017, Movies by - August 01, 2017
MISAFF 2017: Our Review of ‘Keeping up with the Kandasamy’s’

The title is a play on my favourite dysfunctional family. And although the plots of the show and this are different, there are a few thematic similarities. The titular Kandasamys are an upper middle class family who enjoy luxuries. Chic cars, furniture, gym memberships. They have more than their neighbours, the Naidoos.

But the Naidoos have good things going for them. That family’s matriarch, Shanti (Maeshni Naicker), has her magnetic personality and is proud of her bigger body. She doesn’t want to keep up with the Kandasamys. She just hates one of its members what happens to be her ex-best friend, Jennifer (Jailoshini Naidoo).

Jennifer and Shanti hate each other to the point of obsession. It’s a shock, then, to Jennifer to catch her daughter Jodi (Mishqah Parthiephal) necking with Shanti’s son Prishen (Madhushan Sing).

In laws famously dislike each other. But Jennifer and Shanti find it intolerable to stuck forever because of a possible marriage between their children. As much as Jennifer loathes to do so, she and Shanti stick together to divide the young couple.

Naicker and Naidoo play up their characters’ differences nicely. Jailoshini Naidoo brings the gravitas and complexity in a film that would have been otherwise just a straight up comedy. And Naicker brings the comedy without going way over the top. Their best moments are with the other characters, letting the scenes with them breathe.

It’s also nice to see a different side of the South Asian experience. It shows its diaspora and flourishing community in South Africa.

But as much as the actresses elevate the film, it can’t help but be formulaic. It comes with a third act reveal that reduces the characters as archetypes. It also, unfortunately, makes easy targets of its supporting characters. And comedies can do better than that.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you’re working.