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Parents' Guide to

The Namesake

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Fabulous immigrant-family saga to see with teens.

Movie PG-13 2007 122 minutes
The Namesake Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 16+

The Namesake Is Something Unique

Director/producer Mira Nair (Vanity Fair’04) brings yet another deeply personal story to the screen - based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jhumpa Lahiri, with a screen adaption by prize winner Sooni Taraporevala. Director Nair invests a great deal of effort into analyzing the generation gap in an Indian-American family, as they navigate their differences in moral and ethical issues, alongside their traditional family ties from the mother country. Irrfran Kahn (Life of Pi) gives us another superb performance as the father, while gifted Indian actress Tabu equals him as his dedicated wife. Together they try earnestly to connect with their adolescent son (Kal Penn) who’s drifting towards a ‘modern’ shallow existence - failing to connect with those who have dedicated their lives to supplying a loving family base. Cinematography and Music play an important part in guiding the audience’s attention through the multi-layered issues that live within this quality, mature work. While it's good, it's not recommended for younger kids, mainly for older teens.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Too much sex
age 15+

Not My Favorite Movie

Just because I don't like it much, obviously does not mean its a bad movie. In fact, it is really well made with a great plot, amazing acting, and a good message. However, I did not like it due to it being sort of boring for me. For people who like these kinds of imperfect family movies, I would say by all means, go for it! Although, I would also advise to be careful with kids because it has drug use, language, and sexuality in it.

This title has:

Great messages
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5 ):
Kids say (1 ):

Mira Nair's adaptation faithfully and richly translates the much-loved book and as Gogol, Kal Penn perfectly emotes the complexity of being raised in the States by immigrant parents. Yet while the titular character is Penn's, the movie's strength lies in Gogol's parents, Ashima and Ashoke, who are played by Indian stars Tabu (a gorgeous actress with glowing skin and telling eyes) and Irfan Khan (a quiet force throughout the film). They're the true immigrants, dealing with the radical cultural shift between their homeland and the United States. The kids grow up mostly American, but the parents must constantly navigate both worlds.

Powerful family films are rare, especially when most cinematic families consist of idiot husbands, their long-suffering wives, and annoyed kids. For once, forego the belly laughs (although the film offers plenty of funny moments) and experience the touching journey that is The Namesake.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: March 9, 2007
  • On DVD or streaming: November 27, 2007
  • Cast: Irrfan Khan , Jacinda Barrett , Kal Penn
  • Director: Mira Nair
  • Inclusion Information: Indian/South Asian actors, Gay actors
  • Studio: Fox Searchlight
  • Genre: Drama
  • Character Strengths: Empathy , Humility
  • Run time: 122 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: sexuality/nudity, a scene of drug use, some disturbing images and brief language.
  • Last updated: June 20, 2023

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