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All Critics (11)
| Top Critics (4)
| Fresh (8)
| Rotten (3)
A strained cross between broad, culture-clash comedy and wistful coming-of-age tale, "Growing Up Smith" is a well-intentioned fizzle that misses what should have been an easily reachable mark.
A crowd-friendly immigrant's tale painted with a thick coat of '70s nostalgia.
The film has accidental topicality now with the debate over immigration swirling, but you don't need to burden it with politics to be touched by its tale of a child who is pulled by two very different cultural worlds.
The film feels like an extended episode of The Wonder Years, if that '60s-set series had served a little chicken tikka masala and cross-cultural understanding with its white bread and pop hits.
Flawed but not without its merits, including heart, humor and a look at the complex immigrant experience that hides a painful depth beneath its amusing surface. The film sneaks up on you with a family drama that is surprisingly unsparing.
The joys and pains of childhood are familiar across all cultures -- and, as the cloying comedy Growing Up Smith demonstrates, hackneyed variations on The Wonder Years also are universal.
Lee provides the kind of welcome down-to-earth good-old-boy charm he used in TV's My Name is Earl and Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous.
Although the mildly amusing film means well, the period and culture-clash gags are more obvious than insightful.
Warm, tender and heartfelt. A funny, witty and crowd-pleasing delight! More powerful than Lion!
Growing Up Smith possesses a big heart, features a funny and engagingly sincere performance by Lake Zurich's Roni Akurati, and offers an ending that swaps easy sentiment for the hard-earned kind.
This immigrant clash-of-generations set-up risks falling into cliché, and sometimes does, but director Frank Lotito and the screenwriters find enough specificity and comedy in Smith's dilemma to keep the genial, family-friendly story afloat.
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