May 23, 2012

MOVIES: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (John Madden, 2012)

Here we have a piece of absolute formula, elevated to watchability by a terrific cast of veteran British actors.

A group of older Brits (among them Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Maggie Smith, and Penelope Wilton) decide to spend their retirement at the titular hotel in Jaipur, India, which is advertised as a spectacular retirement resort for the "elderly and beautiful." It turns out to be rather a dump, badly mismanaged by a young man with more dreams than sense (Dev Patel).

India turns out to be more of a culture shock than they had expected, and they struggle to varying degrees to adapt to the noise, crowds, smells, and food. But in the end, India changes them all (as you surely knew it would), and they find ways to adapt and enjoy their new circumstances. Even the idiot manager finds a way to make a success of his business.

The British cast is top-notch, and their performances are the only reason to see the movie. (Dev Patel? Not so much, and all of his subplots are tedious bores that bring the movie screeching to a halt.)

If you're a fan of any of these actors, and you can't find anything else you're excited about at the multiplex, this will keep you mildly amused for a couple of hours. But you won't be missing anything if you wait for cable or DVD.

And a final comment on one particular plot point, which you may skip if you like, since it's mildly spoiler-y:

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