**½/**** Image A- Sound A Extras A-
starring Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Anupam Kher
screenplay by Gurinder Chadha, Guljit Bindra, Paul Mayeda Berges
directed by Gurinder Chadha
by Walter Chaw This year's British-import-pre-sold-as-a-hit Bend It Like Beckham coasts on its similitude to John Badham's magnificent Saturday Night Fever, but when all a picture is doing is reminding you of a better one without embarrassing itself, it can hardly be called a triumph. I'm surprised that more critics haven't picked up on the film's debt to Saturday Night Fever, actually, which extends to the set design and placement of key props. It's this kind of popular coding that has, I suspect, buoyed Bend It Like Beckham aloft the market doldrums of other mainstream-pitched East-meets-West comedies (East Is East, Bollywood/Hollywood): the subliminal affiliation of one ethnicity (orthodox Sikh) with another (Italian-Americans) that was long ago embraced by the masses.