Of all the labels we carry – boy, girl, husband, wife, mother, father, etc. – it’s probably our job that identifies us most to the outside world. It’s a day-to-day showing of what the public sees of us. So what happens to your identity when your job is put in limbo? Better yet, what happens to your identity when your job is shipped overseas?
Mixing astute cultural observation, character-driven comedy and a little romance, John Jeffcoat’s Outsourced is a delightful look at how easily jobs can be cut and sent elsewhere. Todd Anderson (Josh Hamilton) works as a sales manager for a company that sells tacky Americana-themed knick knacks over the telephone. When the Seattle-based office is shut down, Todd is sent to India to train his eventual replacement. Without a wife or close ties to his family, Todd has no other choice. His job is his life, his identity. He leaves it all behind and begins anew in a small Indian village where he is idolized as a foreigner.
Much of the story centers around the collision of cultures as Todd becomes acclimatized to a foreign world. His assumptions are disproved and his new group of co-workers change his worldview to the point where a true identity is formed, one that isn’t dictated largely by the clock and a briefcase.
Outsourced is a comfortable film that pokes fun at cultures – both American and Indian – without being offensive. The focus on characters is a definite strength as you come to like each and every one of them. They are all distinct with their own humorous quirks.
Outsourced is the reverse of a recent trend as East has been seen coming to grips with the West in films such as Monsoon Wedding, Bollywood/Hollywood and Bride and Prejudice. Outsourced is the opposite with Todd adapting to Eastern traditions and customs.
Jeffcoat does a great job at offering satire without being preachy. He looks at outsourcing for what it is and uses it as a backdrop to showing that opposing cultures can co-exist and even enjoy each other’s company. There’s even a sense of irony to top it all off.
There were a couple of minor instances where I felt thing were a little too cute, such as the inevitable romance subplot. But even most of those are eventually spun into something fresh. Outsourced is a film where the small details make all the difference. It’s a crowd-pleasing comedy that takes a very real and unfortunate trend in the world of bottom lines. It also has a heart for humanity, taking the idea of identity and stripping it away from the nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday mundane.