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Davis Journal

‘Polite Society’ an imaginative delight, while bad writing makes ‘Ghosted’ fall flat

May 12, 2023 12:35PM ● By Jenniffer Wardell

Polite Society (in theaters) 

If you’re desperate for a movie with real imagination, then I’ve got a treat for you. 

“Polite Society,” an action comedy from creator Nida Manzoor, is one of this spring’s most delightful cinematic surprises. It starts out as a classic outcast teen comedy, focusing on an Indian girl named Ria Kahn who wants nothing more than to be a stuntwoman. When her sister drops out of art school and gets engaged, Ria becomes determined to stop her from making the biggest mistake of her life.

I don’t want to give spoilers, but “Polite Society” is not the film you start out thinking it is. The movie is careful with its buildup, charming throughout but built upon such familiar lines that you definitely don’t see the transformation coming. The ride through it manages to be both hilarious and deeply emotional, never losing sight of the sisterly relationship at the heart of it. It makes the final payoff that much sweeter, not to mention deeply entertaining. 

Priya Kansara and Ritu Arya are both fantastic as the sisterly duo at the center of the film, always engaging even when they’re at odds with one another. Seraphina Beh and Ella Bruccoleri are the most entertaining sidekicks a girl could ask for, and Nimra Bucha chews scenery like the queen she is. 

Together, they make for a fun, fantastic mashup that feels like a cinematic breath of fresh air. 

Grade: Three and a half stars

Ghosted (Apple TV+)

“Ghosted” makes me angry. 

There’s a certain type of romance where both participants are so unlikeable that not only do you not care whether they get together by the end, you don’t actually want them to. Honestly, you’ve seen no sign that they actually care whether or not they get together. They seem to detest each other as much as you detest them, and though the script makes them kiss at the right moments it’s as believable as a kid smashing two dolls together. 

It makes me even more angry when a movie takes two actors with as much natural charm and charisma as Chris Evans and Ana de Armas and does this to them. “Ghosted” makes Evans enough of a pedantic argumentative stalker that not even his looks are enough to save him, and Armas routinely threatens his life without the slightest hesitation. When the script stops getting in the way they have a natural chemistry, but the moment either one opens their mouth you can feel the other person want to punch them. 

Since the audience also wants to punch them, it’s only fair. 

The entire scriptwriting team should be ashamed of themselves. The one bright spot in the movie are the brief, highly entertaining guest appearances by several famous faces I won’t spoil here. I suspect they were probably ad-libbed, since they have all the humor and charm completely absent in the rest of the movie. 

A lot of talent went into making this terrible movie, but almost none of it is left on the screen. The kindest thing you can do for everyone involved is stay away. 

Grade: One half star