We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

For an immigrant-with-a-dream-makes-good movie, The Guru benefits a lot from a little special market placement: There just aren’t that many American movies about Indians trying to make it stateside, so the cultural-expectation jokes, which take the same shape as any about Latino scholastic achievers/Jamaican bobsledders/Greek brides, have a new and unaccustomed flavor. Ramu (Jimi Mistry) wants to become a song-and-dance man like his idol, John Travolta, whose gyrations move him more than the hallucinatory shimmying of the Bollywood stars of his childhood. He decamps India for New York, only to find himself, in a joke the film treats lightly, in the city’s Little India, where everyone assumes he’ll end up driving a cab. At an audition for a porn role, which he wins and then loses, Ramu strikes up a friendship with blue-movie star Sharrona (Heather Graham, game but technically limited), who gives him uplifting speeches along the lines of “A dream is a wish your ass makes.” One silly coincidence leads to another, and Ramu becomes “The Guru of Sex,” toast of socialite spiritual seekers who had almost run out of scams to spend their money on. (Such is Ramu’s power that when he ducks out of a dinner party, he returns to find everyone at the table naked and smiling politely.) The film is full of great bits: a charming lead, cute dialogue, Marisa Tomei as a spiritually hungry heiress, a couple of zany Bollywood musical numbers, and the most hideous wedding cake in the history of movies, maybe even mankind. And bless The Guru’s generous heart: It loves the cake, it loves the connection the cake stands for, and it never condescends to its characters for a second. —Arion Berger