"Slumdog Millionaire" is second in Oscar nominations with 10 to "Benjamin Button's" 13. Here's an excerpt from my review in the current American Conservative:
After sweeping the Golden Globe awards, “Slumdog Millionaire,” the plucky movie about an uneducated underdog from the slums of Bombay who wins 20 million rupees on the local version of the quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, has become the Oscar race overdog.
Seven-year-old Jamal and his older brother Salim are orphaned in 1992 when Hindu nationalist mobs torch their Muslim slum in Bombay. (Or “Mumbai,” as the Shiv Sena politicians who fomented these pogroms renamed the city in 1996. Although trendy Westerners all use “Mumbai” now, no locals call their famous film industry “Mullywood.”)
... To make enough money to run off with his beloved, Jamal goes on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” There, as fate, karma, or kismet would have it, he finds he knows the answer to each trivia question because it had already come up at a memorably dramatic moment in his life. ...
The film contains, in theory, most of the elements of a crowd pleaser, but the actual product turns out to be less enjoyable to watch than a good episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. ...
Worse, the script is as on-the-nose as the dog comedy “Marley and Me.” Sadly, Boyle and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy didn’t trust their gimmick. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire has been a hit around the world because its slow pacing (the opposite of Jeopardy!) allows viewers to think along with the contestant as he talks out his thought processes. Thinking is fun.
“Crash” (an equally contrived but more interactive film) allowed viewers a half minute to rewind the plot in their heads and figure out for themselves the climactic conundrum of why nobody was killed when the angry Iranian shot the Mexican locksmith’s angelic daughter at point-blank range.
Sadly, “Slumdog Millionaire” doesn’t encourage any thinking back about earlier scenes. Instead, each quiz question is followed by a lengthy flashback ending with The Answer. For example, after “Who invented the revolver?” comes Jamal’s recollection that concludes with his gangster brother waving a gun around and shouting, “The man with the Colt .45 says shut up!”
Okay, we get it.
The funny thing is that "Slumdog Millionaire" could easily be re-edited to be a fun movie. Show the questions being asked rapid fire at the beginning, then flashback to Jamal's lifestory for an hour, then re-ask the questions and let moviegoers play the game alongside Jamal, searching through their memories of the last hour for the answers. It would also make the movie extremely memorable, since the way you remember something is to exercise your mind putting it in context.