"The Namesake" is a hurried tapestry of cross-cultural experience that periodically derails due to episodic hopscotching in Sooni Taraporevala’s script adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s debut novel. Director Mira Nair ("Vanity Fair") cuts too many narrative corners around a three decade story about Ashoke Ganfulis (Irrfan Khan), a young Calcutta native who brings his arranged marriage wife Ashima (Tabu) to Brooklyn where they raise their son and daughter. Named after his father’s favorite writer, Gogol’s (Kal Penn) ongoing identity crisis—he switches to Nick—reaches resolve when tragedy and tradition conspire to draw him to India and his cultural heritage. For all of its hammy sentimentality, "The Namesake" is contagiously watchable thanks to Kal Penn in his first serious leading man role.
Rated PG-13. 122 mins. (C+) (Two Stars)