The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Aging gracefully is not something we’re all going to be able to accomplish successfully. I like to think that I will eventually be considered wise and thoughtful yet still be able to pepper my conversation with pop culture references that make people nod admiringly and say “Wow, I wish I could quote Kanye West as easily as she does.” (Can you believe he’s actually dating Kim Kardashian?) But there are a few factors that need to be in your favor in order to achieve this: not having dementia helps. Also: cash. Lots and lots of cash.

Not enough of the latter is one of the reasons the older occupants of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel end up in India, hoping to spend their golden years in an affordable setting that will add a little spice to their mundane lives. The ensemble cast is comprised of top notch British actors, which is good to see because I was a little worried after Harry Potter was over that these people would never work again. Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson all have separate story lines that converge when they end up at the Marigold Hotel as a last resort. The actors are the best part of the film, and I would watch Bill Nighy in just about anything.

The story is sweet but predictable, with people learning that change and love can happen at any age. There is a separate plot line involving Dev Patel as the owner of the hotel who struggles to find his independence as a business man as well as a son; that story seems a bit trite but serves as a way to highlight the differences between the young man and the older patrons. It’s also a nice way to show the more modern side of a country that is steeped in tradition but is constantly moving forward. I’m pretty sure I’ve talked to most of those phone operators in the call center.

India looks exotic and interesting, and the director (John Madden, who also directed Shakespeare in Love in between his football commercials and video game endorsements. What a busy guy!) shows the relentless pace of the city with quick cuts and swerving camera shots. It’s not exactly hand-held, but the movement and over saturated colors start to contribute to that familiar feeling in the gut, which I guess is very similar to riding in a tuk tuk through the teeming streets of Jaipur. Fortunately this only takes place in the first half of the movie, or my reaction might have been similar to one of the character’s after they have had their first taste of Lamb Vindaloo. Apart from the tuk tuk ride, the film was enjoyable and made me want to immediately up my contribution to my 401K.

Barf Bag Rating: TWO and a half  BAGS (one of these bags was spilled in the lobby on the way into the theatre and is only half full. No, don’t eat it off the carpet! Oh, that’s disgusting.)

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