Growing Up Smith
Growing Up Smith

Screenings: May 19-25

Show Times: Nightly, except Thursday, at 7:30pm, Saturday Matinee at 1:30pm, Sunday Matinee at 2:30pm and Thursday, May 25 1:30 matinee. NO EVENING SHOW. No one will be admitted after the film has started.

Admission: Regular $7; Matinees $6; MVFS Members $5; Seniors over 60, Military and Students with ID $6; Wednesdays $5

Running Time: 102 min

Language/Subtitles: English

Film Director: Frank Lotito

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The nostalgic haze that used to be associated with the 1950s seems to have drifted forward in time in recent years, with the latest example being “Growing Up Smith,” a gentle cross-cultural film about a 10-year-old boy from India who is navigating childhood with his immigrant family in a generic American suburb in 1979.

He is Smith Bhatnagar (his parents wanted a common American moniker but didn’t quite grasp the distinction between first and last names), and if the actor playing him, Roni Akurati, isn’t as polished as some young stars, he’s good enough for the material. Smith has a crush on a neighbor, Amy (Brighton Sharbino), who befriends him in a neighborhood and school that seem full of bullies intolerant of his accent and culture. Amy’s father, Butch (Jason Lee), the movie’s best-developed character, becomes a rock for Smith despite battling personal demons.

The film, directed by Frank Lotito, uses the device common in coming-of-age movies, narration by the adult Smith (Samrat Chakrabarti). The movie has a roughly equal number of clumsy moments and sweet ones. In the most endearing vignette, young Smith goes hunting with Butch, learning a lesson about guns and a lesson about himself as well.

The film has accidental topicality now with the debate over immigration swirling, but you don’t need to burden it with politics to be touched by its tale of a child who is pulled by two very different cultural worlds. Best of all, the story has some surprises as it makes its way toward the inevitable where-is-he-now moment when we see how young Smith’s life turned out. Neil Genzlinger, New York Times. Rated PG-13