I love IMDB's "plot keywords" feature, which for this movie are:
* Infidelity * Jet Lag * Pot Smoking * Train * Wedding Ceremony * Shaved Head * Singer * Airplane * Husband Wife Relationship * Parents * Namesake * Death * Train Crash * Culture Clash * Subtitled * Multiple Languages * Immigration * Interracial Romance * Indian American * Flashback Sequence * Father Son Relationship * Name Change * Shoes * Mother * Calcutta India * Arranged Marriage * Ganges * Interracial Relationship * Based On Novel * Title Spoken By CharacterShoes? Where were the shoes? I remember a couple scenes where people were barefoot. Where's that in the keywords?
Anyway: I liked this more than I expected. It's multiculturalism without the usual ideological baggage. In Calcutta, beautiful young Ashima accepts an arranged marriage with Ashoke, who carts her off to New York City; he's an engineering student there. Soon they have a son, and—for reasons to be fully explained later—they name him "Gogol" after the Ukrainian writer. Gogol grows up to be played by Kal Penn, Kumar himself, and he has his own problems to deal with.
I especially liked Ashoke's comments to others about how things are in America, made with a mixture of bewildered admiration: "They have a president named Jimmy!"
The characters are treated in depth, with intelligence and wit. Acting is fine. There's no grand moral point to be made, and the plot conflicts aren't major; to quote Homer Simpson, it's just a bunch of stuff that happened. But that's enough.