Monday, July 9, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' is the foolish movie that premiered the same weekend as 'The Avengers' back in May. Great idea, right? Well, it turns out if ever there was appropriate counter-programming to the biggest movie of the summer, it was dame Judi Dench.

The film has been a tremendous force at the box-office. Proportionally, obviously. Which is to say it hasn't become the third-highest grossing movie of all time in the US (that would be 'The Avengers'), but it has already grossed more than 100 million dollars internationally on a 10 million budget. So, yes, I guess older people still like to go to the movies.

The plot of the movie is the following: A group of retired English people (which includes Dame Judi, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Night and Dame Maggie Smith) decide for different reasons to move to India to the wonderful 'Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful', which is a luxurious, top of the line resort. Only it isn't. It is a little hotel sloppily run by a young man (Dev Patel) who can barely make ends meet. The brits are initially disappointed by this, but soon the little hotel and the exotic country will win their hearts.

As you most probably have already thought to yourself after reading the above paragraph, the plot isn't particularly original. And it really isn't. On the comedy side, it concentrates mainly on how different things are in India (the traffic, the food, it's all so crowded!) and how shocked the british are by this. On the dramatic side, it also centers on what feels like a cultural differences checklist: arranged marriage, the cast system, etc. You can see a lot of the plot-lines' resolutions coming from miles away and it all works out a little too nicely at the end. 

But there is something special about the little film that just wins you over by the end. Yes, this is a predictable story and these are roles that this wonderful actors could play in their sleep. But it doesn't mean that watching them is any less fun. If ever there was an earnest movie, this was it. And these terrific actors (and director John Madden from 'Shakespeare In Love' fame) are willing to commit to the material, no matter how predictable it is. And at the end, I think this earnestness pays off really well. This doesn't feel like a cash-grab from the producers' part. This isn't another movie about a group of man-child friends who get drunk and refuse to grow up. 

This is a nice time at the movies and I'm glad this movie exists even if it is not that great. Not every movie in the world has to pander to young males and hopefully the success of the 'Marigold Hotel' can start to change this. 

Grade: B-

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