THE INFIDEL directed by Josh Appignanesi, written by David Baddiel, with Omid Djalili, Richard Schiff, Archie Panjabi and Matt Lucas. A Peace Arch Entertainment release. 105 minutes. Opens Friday (August 20). For venues, trailers and times, see Movies. Rating: NNN
Rocked by the revelation that his birth parents were Jewish on the eve of his son's engagement to the stepdaughter of a fiery fundamentalist imam, a mostly assimilated London Muslim (Omid Djalili) must hide his identity from his confused family while exploring it with the help of a cranky American pal (Richard Schiff).
David Baddiel's script puts a multicultural spin on a classic British identity farce. Don't worry about anyone taking offence; The Infidel exaggerates all ethnicities, setting up a series of confrontations that don't exactly surprise, but provoke consistent chuckles.
Djalili, a British comedian best known here as a swarthy bit player in the likes of The Mummy and Gladiator, makes a solid leading man. In a fine touch, his increasingly frazzled delivery seems more and more Yiddish over the course of the picture, subtly reinforcing the movie's central joke.
On the downside, director Josh Appignanesi can't quite keep the momentum going all the way to the end, and the big finale falls awfully flat.