While it's been nearly 12 years since we last caught up with the dysfunctional Khan family, only five years have passed for them on-screen. And although this sequel to 'East Is East' isn't as successful at mixing comedy and drama as its BAFTA-winning predecessor, the universal themes of identity and struggling to find your place in the world make a welcome return.
Once again we are brought into the lives of Pakistani father George (Puri), his English wife Ella (Bassett) and their seven children. With his older offspring having flown the nest, the dogmatic George becomes overly concerned about his youngest son Sajid (Khan), and his disregard for his family heritage. However, when Saijd is caught shoplifting and bunking off school, a worried George takes the misbehaving 15-year-old back to his homeland to teach him a lesson.
Despite some initial hostility towards his new surroundings, the ever-swearing Sajid gradually becomes accustomed to what was once his father's way of life. With a new friend of a similar age, Zaid (Bhansali), to help distract him, and new mentor Pir Naseem (Sawalha) offering words of wisdom, Sajid gradually begins to embrace Pakistani tradition.
Meanwhile, chip-shop owner George appears to have bitten off more than he can chew when he is faced with the wife and daughters that he abandoned more than 30 years ago. How will he reconcile his past and present?
The humour in 'West Is West' is both wide-ranging and predictable, relying too heavily on nonsensical mix-ups and politically incorrect jibes. The film becomes more appealing however when it tugs at the heartstrings, such as when Sajid plays matchmaker for his unmarried brother Maneer (Marwa) who has formed a bizarre obsession with a Nana Mouskouri lookalike; or when Sajid disappears before a sandstorm, leaving his worried family to pick up the pieces.
Newcomer Aqib Khan is superb as the cheeky, angst-ridden teen, and his change of heart plays out convincingly. However, his constant swearing and repetitive one-liners take from the genuinely witty script. Om Puri is perfect in the role of the somewhat tyrannical father, and his ability to convey such raw emotion towards his screen family makes George a rewarding and likeable character.
Lesley Nicol’s character Auntie Annie provides some much needed comic relief during the more intense parts of the film, while Linda Bassett's turn as the loyal wife and caring mother adds a dollop of warmth and conviction. That said, several of the scenes between Ella and George's first wife Basheera (Arun) are inconsistent and could do with a more concise explanation.
Although 'West Is West' lacks the direction and creativity of 'East Is East', it avoids going south on the cinematic compass.