On the surface, Outsourced looks like Office Space for the globalization set. In the beginning it feels like that’s what it is. Director John Jeffcoat creates a drab, dull corporate environment and an incompetent, passionless boss, Dave, (Matt Smith) for upper management aspirant Todd (Josh Hamilton) to deal with. Todd, though, goes on a more spiritual and personal journey than Peter Gibbons ever does.
Todd is a call center manager for a company that sells “kitsch to rednecks.” Todd busts his ass to get ahead in the corporate world because that is what he thinks he is supposed to do. When Todd’s entire department is outsourced to India, Dave gives Todd two choices; go to India to train his replacement, or hit the unemployment line. Brainwashed in corporate culture, and without any family ties, or even any friendships per se, Todd makes the decision to go to India.
Once there, a whole new world opens up. India is more colorful and vibrant than America. The people are more active, and friendlier, even when they swarm after Todd like fish in a feeding frenzy bidding to be the one to serve as his cab driver.
Todd soon meets his eventual replacement, Puro (Asif Basara) and his crew of misfit employees. These Indians will be selling patriotic knick-knacks to Americans. Todd, who every Indian calls “Toad,” must get their performance up to speed. The quickest way to do that, he thinks, is to get them to seem more American.
The group is filled with colorful characters. One representative hits on every woman who calls, another plasters his cubicle with photos of his family. Puro wants only to become manager, so he can marry his sweetheart. Then there is Asha (Ayesha Dharker) the beautiful , smart and talented rep who hates Todd and his American bravado. Of course romance will follow.
Todd must get the crew’s “Minutes per Incident” below six minutes. Basically this is the time it takes a rep to finish a sale from when they are connected with a customer. There is a clock on the wall in the call center counting down. As Todd coaches the crew, the number gets lower and lower.
We know Todd won’t be able to leave until he finds himself. When Todd arrives in India, he wants no part of it. He tells his reps to learn more about America. Asha tells him to learn more about India. Todd lets go, he accepts his presence in this foreign land, and comes to grips with his fate. He makes friends with his co-workers and neighbors, and falls in love with Asha. Only then does the MPI clock approach six.
Jeffcoat’s camera brings out the colors of India. From the buildings, to the clothing, everything is bright pastels, and they jump at your eye. A cinematic kaleidescope. Screenwriters Jeffcoat and George Wing create people who are just as colorful. Sure they care about their jobs, but they never let work get in the way of their lives. Every Indian we meet, even those living in the midst of squalor, beam with smiles and come off as jolly, truly happy individuals.
Todd has been transformed. No longer afraid of corporate culture, he is his own man. He finally can live his life. Where Peter Gibbons was hypnotized, and robbed and stole, Todd Anderson has found humanity in a foreign land. He has let go of himself and his corporate greed.
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