Outsourced, the TV Show starring Ben Rappaport and Diederich Bader, premiered last week on NBC as part of its Thursday night lineup. However, did you know that the premise is based on a 2007 movie of the same name?
Outsourced stars Josh Hamilton as Todd Anderson, a supervisor for an American company specializing in American-themed kitsch (think eagle statues and cheese hats.) One day he is called into his boss’s office and is given some rather surprising news: the company is outsourcing its call center to India, taking Todd’s job along with it. He isn’t out of work, per se. In fact, he must travel to India in order to train his replacement, Puro (Asif Basra).
Once in India, the culture shocks come fast and furious. Todd has trouble hailing a cab, cannot understand why he shouldn’t eat with his left hand, and more importantly, is confused that a McDonalds will not sell him a cheeseburger (basically because it is McDonnels, not McDonald’s, although a fellow traveler says he probably won’t get one there either.)
Work presents the same challenge, but the longer Todd stays, the more he realizes that instead of trying to make the employees solely understand America, perhaps he needs to understand them as people first.
This is a wonderfully charming film, and although some of the situations may seem familiar, the cast more than happily makes up for it with energy and warmth, especially Ayesha Dharker as Asha, a strong willed woman with her own ideas, but still constrained by tradition. Hamilton is equally engaging in a very tricky part. Todd could have come across as arrogant and boorish, but Hamilton never overdoes the frustration of Todd’s situation, and remains likable throughout. Naturally it is expected Asha and Todd strike up a romance, however it does not happen instantly, and both actors have an easygoing chemistry that makes the attraction genuinely believable.
Outsourced could have easily fallen into the trap of so many fish-out-of-water stories, but director John Jeffcoat wisely escapes many of them, providing a fresh look on many well worn clichés.
The DVD, which was released on September 22nd, contains a few extras, such as audio commentary, and some interesting vignettes that explain certain aspects of production. Two of my favorites: the crew tries to shoot a quiet night time scene, however a wedding is blasting music in the distance every time they try a take, and two men must stand guard with sticks in order to keep wild animals away.