Growing Up Smith, B-
Rated PG-13, 102 minutes
The familiar yet charming comedy "Growing Up Smith" is an Indian version of "The Wonder Years" with some "Fresh Off the Boat" thrown in: a coming-of-age story about adjusting to new life in the U.S. It's nothing new, but an enjoyable escape for the family.
In 1970s suburban America, all 10-year-old Smith (Roni Akurati) wants to do is watch "Happy Days," play with his "Star Wars" figurines, and hang out with the girl-next-door (Brighton Sharbino of "Miracles of Heaven"). But things are not that easy when he has to deal with his overbearing father (Anjul Nigam) pushing his Indian heritage on him every second of every day.
Directed by Australian actor and producer Frank Lotito ("The Lookalike") with a script by Gregory Scott Houghton, "Growing Up Scott" is a pleasant, predictable look at Indian life in America. Episodic and somewhat choppy, it feels like a TV show, with the heavy voice-over ala "The Wonder Years," and with the adjustments to American life and pop culture references, it channels the aforementioned "Fresh Off the Boat."
As the young Smith, Indian-American actor Akurati of the TV show "Palo Alto" is charming and curious and rocks a "Saturday Night Fever" white suit, while veteran character actor Nigam of "True Detective" and "Bad Words" steals scenes as Smith traditional, overbearing Indian father, who forces Smith to pray for repentance to the Indian gods when he makes the mistake of eating meat - a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken at that. The name actor in the bunch, Jason Lee of "My Name is Earl" and "Chipmunk" fame, is also fun as Butch, the father of the girl he likes.
Butch takes Smith hunting in the wild. Smith and his girl go Trick-or-treating. Some fun but thin and predictable episodes that could easily pass for the latest Netflix series that you could binge watch. There isn't much to "Growing Up Smith," but there are some fun moments that creates a pleasant, somewhat forgettable diversion.