Call me a sucker, but I love films that tell success stories about immigrants. Hoping that this would fit that bill, went and saw “Doctor Cabbie”, which was summed up as “a story about a doctor from India who is not allowed to practice medicine in Canada, who becomes a cabbie and a local hero when he serves patients in the back of his taxi”.

I went in expecting something similar to a Shyam Selvadurai novel, it was more like a Big Bang Theory episode, minus the laugh track. Instead of portraying immigrant life and the challenges and triumphs involved with it, I was treated to two-hours of overdone slapstick, misogyny dressed up as comedy. It wasn’t just that the film failed my expectations, it’s that it was a grotesque and just a terrible movie all around. I’m baffled that it broke Canadian box office records for Canadian-made films. It was the first time I’d ever left a movie theatre feeling like I needed a shower.

I could dedicate paragraphs to its many flaws, but I’ll stick to the two that were the most blatant: Namely, the lack of character development and the foul misogyny and racism coating the entire film. You wouldn’t think that a film that had an Indian protagonist could be so absurdly racist, but it manages to take that and run with it. The protagonist, Dr. Deepak Chopra (no relation to the public speaker and author beloved by Oprah and company) is the only male character of colour who can be described as a decent human being. The rest of them, such as his best friend Tony and his uncle, fulfill every Western stereotype of Indian men as perverted, slimy creeps who slobber over white women. There’s also a notable dearth of female characters of colour who have any significance to the plot. The only two of real note to the plot are Deepak’s mother, who doesn’t seem to have a life or a purpose outside of either uplifting or nagging her son, and an immigrant woman who attempts suicide after her parents discover she is pregnant with her white boyfriend’s child. Otherwise, apart from a taxi driver who barely gets any dialogue, a border guard who gets mocked for being Chinese by the mother, and an East Asian masseuse who asks “Happy ending?” to a white man, the cast of women is dominated by two white women, who fare no better with sexist characterization, but get more screentime than all of the woman of colour characters put together. The main character himself doesn’t have any notable characteristics. He spends the film mostly being benign and good, and doesn’t change from beginning to end through any of the trials of immigration, being unable to practice medicine, driving a cab, being arrested, and finding friendship and love and fame. He is unmovable. Basically, he’s boring.

The villains fare no better. They’re cartoonish caricatures of what racist rich white men look like in Canada: manipulative, sexist, and making cheap jokes about curry and rickshaws. The problem is, most racists aren’t buffoonish types who have no redeeming values. They’re perfectly ordinary Canadians who have unexamined attitudes about immigrants that translate into casual or malicious behaviour. Making the avatar of racism and misogyny in the film a caricature is a cheap attempt to move the audience away from the racist and sexist jokes they’re supposed to be laughing along to in the script.

I’m used to dealing with racism, misogyny, and other such nonsense. It’s Hollywood’s bread and butter. But normally, it isn’t this over-the-top and paired with a plot and characterization that insults my intelligence.

Now, I need to go take a shower to wash the memory of this movie off of me. Since it”s getting rave reviews, I hope that my review at least, might dissuade you from wasting money to go see it.

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