The story of one man’s inner self-discovery during his time in India, Outsourced is a fish-out-of-water tale of the distinctly white and schmucky kind. It’s hard to tell what is most offensive about John Jeffcoat’s nauseatingly vanilla creation: the manner in which it flaunts its reductive cultural misunderstandings for crowd-pleasing laughs, or the overwrought narrative schematics posing as genuine human emotions in its Screenplay 101 final exam. Seattle-based manager Todd (Josh Hamilton) has just been informed that his entire department has been outsourced to India, and in order to keep his stock options and stay onboard with the company, he must travel there himself to train his replacement. Once there, he responds to his new habitat like one’s immune system would to an alien virus, but after a few dozen cultural misunderstandings and some forbidden romance with the native population, it’s just as good as home, sweet home.
Outsourced gets the basic facts right about its locale but its examination of the cultural schisms between people of differing backgrounds (such as in a scene where Todd suddenly realizes why it is improper to eat with your left hand—because you wipe your ass with it!) is milked for laughs that reinforce misunderstanding as opposed to fostering empathy or enlightenment. In the film’s envisioned India, one can recognize the local population because they’re the ones who don’t brand their cows, while Americans are defined by their tendency to wear giant blocks of Swiss cheese on their heads at football games. Add to the pile of inanities the film’s refusal to truly confront the socio-economic ramifications of its titular employment issue—thousands of people may have just lost their jobs, but hey, Todd’s feeling better about himself now that he’s found his inner third eye—and what you’re left with is essentially a Happy Meal posing as spiritual enlightenment. Todd learns to accept India and himself after he lets go of his reliance on The Man but the film’s encapsulation of this awakening—an image of a bindi-adorned, one-dollar-bill George Washington—is enough to send one running for the border.