All In Good Time is the story of Atul and Vina, a young Indian couple living in modern day Bolton who are getting married. They are all set to live with Atul’s parents temporarily, and although the day of the wedding doesn’t go entirely to plan, they seem happy. However, disaster strikes when their travel agent runs away with the takings and their honeymoon is cancelled. Soon things begin to spiral out of control, not only in Atul and Vina’s relationship, but also between Atul and his father.
As a general rule, I can’t stand British comedies. Everything from Four Weddings And A Funeral to Notting Hill, East Is East and The Full Monty seem to try too hard to balance comedy with drama and a ‘heart-warming’ core. I appreciate the need for this (if you lose the heart-warming part, apparently you end up with dross such as Anuvahood or Sex Lives Of The Potato Men), but it almost always feels incredibly lethargic.
Unfortunately, All In Good Time doesn’t really break away from this malaise. It relies on modern stereotypes of the Indian community, not the ones that would be considered racist in modern society, but those that have been perfectly acceptable as a form of light-hearted cultural mocking since programmes such as The Kumars At No.42 and Goodness Gracious Me. There's the overbearing Indian father, the meddling gossiping neighbours and so on. Despite knowing a number of members of the Indian community, but not actually being of Indian extraction myself, I didn’t fully understand or relate to some of the more observational humour in All In Good Time, but surely that's going to be a problem for a large proportion of cinema goers given that this is being shown nationwide.
The plot itself is simple enough – newlyweds struggle with overbearing family – nothing earth-shattering there, but equally nothing offensive either. It just feels a little insignificant. Atul’s inability to perform in the bedroom with his wife, who is stunning, while not trivial, is not enough to hang a story around. He comes across as whiny and selfish for much of the film, and is not a very likeable character. His father is also a comic foil for most of the film, so when half way through he is suddenly presented as a character with a serious backstory, it doesn’t quite work. Meera Syal’s performance as Atul’s mother, meanwhile, is of the usual excellent standard, although her comic skills are not given enough of an airing.
All In Good Time is not a terrible film by any stretch of the imagination, it just never quite gets into second gear and fails to bring anything particularly original to the table. The characters are one dimensional and the plot is devoid of exciting incident, relying far too heavily on the relationship of the central characters, who are, generally, not actually all that dysfunctional.
However, there is one thing for which All In Good Time should be praised. The film’s ending is brave, and although not completely out of leftfield, it is certainly a surprise. However, despite its potential to genuinely move the audience, the tone of this ending (without giving spoilers) is completely at odds with the rest of the film, which means it is too jarring a transition to have the impact it deserves.
Essentially, while All In Good Time is far from offensive or abhorrent to the eyes, I did not leave the cinema feeling as though I had seen a particularly good or bad film, more a film that was so overly familiar it failed to have any real effect whatsoever. If you’ve seen East Is East and you’ve attended a wedding, you’re probably not missing much if you don’t see All In Good Time.