March 31, 2003 12:00 PM

Parminder Nagra

Critic’s Choice

Jess (Nagra), an Anglo-Indian teen living in London, loves soccer and worships pro star David Beckham. Her immigrant parents forbid her to play. “She shouldn’t be running around showing her bare legs to men,” her mother says. Jess secretly joins a youth-league team, and when her folks find out, there’s trouble. Toss in a romance with her Irish-born coach, a misunderstanding with an English teammate and her sister’s big fat Indian wedding, and you have the ingredients for a feel-good film that’s actually good.

Like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Real Women Have Curves, Bend It Like Beckham is a likable, hugely enjoyable cross-cultural comedy. Co-written and directed with energetic flair by Gurinder Chadha, Bend generously depicts its characters as persons rather than stereotypes. (PG-13)

BOTTOM LINE: A winner

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