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Holiday Movie Watching: Aamir Khan's 3 Idiots Hits Big

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 30, 2009 at 9:30AM

Like everybody else, I've been catching up on movies over the holidays. By far the most fun movie was the big-budget Bollywood comedy 3 Idiots, starring 44-year-old Aamir Khan as a geeky engineering student.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Like everybody else, I've been catching up on movies over the holidays. By far the most fun movie was the big-budget Bollywood comedy 3 Idiots, starring 44-year-old Aamir Khan as a geeky engineering student.

Amazingly, he gets away with it. 3 Idiots is a mainstream romantic comedy filled with goofy college pranks and a serious progressive message. Loosely based on Chetan Bhagat’s debut bestseller Five Point Someone, the movie is about three engineering students who go up against the strict by-the-books approach of an antagonistic professor. Our hero falls for the prof's daughter (Kareena Kapoor), natch. Like the best Bollywood movies, the three-hour narrative (with intermission) veers from slapstick comedy to heartfelt melodrama to rollicking musical interludes without breaking a sweat. Khan is one of my favorites. He usually delivers. (Last night we watched the historic Oprah interview with my other fave Bollywood stars, the world's most famous couple, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai (on the jump, along with the 3 Idiots trailer).

Over the holiday weekend, 3 Idiots broke the opening day record in India set by Ghajini. According to distributor Reliance (a division of the same company that backs DreamWorks), 3 Idiots grossed $21.4 million on 2126 screens worldwide. (Here's Variety's review.) Stateside, on opening day December 24 3 Idiots was the 10th movie in the country on 120 screens.

This article is related to: Genres, Video, Reviews, Bollywood


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.