But it stars Zachary Levi and Sarah Shahi and Fran Kranz and Bonnie Somerville and also features Rex Lee and Cristine Rose and Lucy Davis, so it is tailor-made for the audience of People Who Read My Journal!
Half-Pakistani writer/director Jaffar Mahmood cast Zachary Levi as half-Pakistani actor/bartender Ray Rehman. And no, he doesn't look half-Pakistani at all, and it never really works, and the audition scenes where he's being "typecast" and forced to do funny accents don't come off right at all because he doesn't look half-Pakistani. But Mahmood was rejected by two production companies who wanted him to change the character to be half-black or half-Latino instead, and he walked away and raised the money himself so he could make the movie on his own terms, and if his own terms include choosing Zachary Levi, then so be it.
Ray Rehman has a Pakistani dad and a white mom. Around the time he proposes to his white girlfriend, his dad shows up on his doorstep, having been kicked out. And since he's there, why doesn't he introduce Ray to a nice half-Pakistani girl? Now Ray has to CHOOSE! And also reunite his parents. Symbolically or whatever.
As an independent film, it is perfectly enjoyable, if uneven; all the parts don't quite fit together, as if some of the pieces don't really know what their purpose is. But that's mostly the ancillary stuff; the main story with Ray and his parents and his lady loves is well done.
But the main appeal, of course, is that ZACHARY LEVI IS BASICALLY PLAYING ME. Sure, he's only half-brown, but as someone who's all brown and mainly attracted to white girls despite his parents' wanting him to marry a brown one, I obviously identified with him and what he has to deal with. For instance, when he complains to his dad about being set up with a "random girl," his dad exlaims, "What 'random'? She's your uncle's best friend in medical school's classmate's daughter!" SERIOUSLY THAT IS HOW IT WORKS.
There were times when I almost wanted to cry just because someone made a movie about South Asians. I just forget how goddamn rare that is. Bollywood is not my life. This is my life. American Desi is my life. Bend It Like Beckham is my life. The Namesake is my life.
Like Born Confused, Shades of Ray tells the story of a South Asian who's allowed to date white folk until their parents force them to marry someone South Asian WHO JUST HAPPENS TO BE HOT AND AWESOME AND PERFECT AND HOW IS THAT ACTUALLY A CONFLICT? No one tells the story of the guy who was never allowed to date anyone, who wasn't even allowed to go to prom, who couldn't even date in college because he didn't want to be forced to lie his parents, who is now being set up with uncle's best friend's classmate's daughters who aren't even interested in him. Look, if my parents found me a girl who looked like Sarah Shahi and whose list of favorite TV shows on MySpace began with Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars, I would be set. (As a side note, HOLY CRAP SARAH SHAHI IS HOT UM MAYBE I SHOULD WATCH LIFE.)
Maybe I really should write my experience, because who the fuck else is going to?