Truly Indie

NEW YORK -- It's not surprising that this low-budget comedy about an American corporate manager training employees in India is being adapted as a TV sitcom. The likable but utterly formulaic "Outsourced" plays a mild-mannered, cross-cultural variation on "The Office."

Josh Hamilton stars as Todd, a 32-year-old manager for a Seattle company that makes cheesy gift knickknacks. When he and his sales team are unceremoniously fired and their jobs outsourced, Todd is given the final assignment of traveling to Mumbai to train his Indian replacement and staff, and bring their MPI ("minutes per incident") up to snuff.

The predictable screenplay, written by director John Jeffcoat and George Wing ("50 First Dates"), depicts Todd's uncomfortable reactions to his new environment, from the inevitable gastric distress to wonderment at the Indian reverence for family and community. Needless to say, by the time he's whipped his ragtag but endlessly enthusiastic and hard-working team into shape, he's learned to reappraise his shallow American values and also has found true love with Asha (Ayesha Dharker), one of his new employees, along the way.

That the film works to the extent that it does is thanks to its refreshingly light touch, authentic sense of milieu (it was shot on location in the brimming Indian city) and the charmingly understated performances. Hamilton thankfully restrains from hitting predictable notes as the ugly American; Dharker is wonderfully appealing as the savvy love interest; Asif Basra is quite amusing as the replacement sales manager looking forward to his arranged marriage, and stage veteran Larry Pine has a terrific cameo as an American expatriate who advises Todd how to relax and enjoy his new environment.