Movie Review: Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Is Sweet But Clichéd

The aging-Brits-in-foreign-lands movie has gone beyond the realm of the trite and become its own genre at this point, so it seems unsporting to poke holes in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for doing pretty much what others of its ilk do: offering up a predictable menu of old regrets and new beginnings in a lush, exotic locale. For some viewers, this sort of thing is like a familiar, comfortable pair of slippers; for others, a tired discard. At times, John Madden’s film feels like both.

Still, there’s a bit of timeliness to this particular vintage of British retirees. Many of them are compelled to move to India in search of not just happier endings but affordable lives, thanks to some contemporary market forces: Picky and perhaps even somewhat racist Muriel (Maggie Smith) can’t afford a hip replacement in the U.K.; Evelyn (Judi Dench) is forced to sell her home in the wake of her late husband’s unfortunate financial decisions; unhappily married Douglas and Jean (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton) are being forced to downsize after losing a boatload on a poor investment. Rounding them out are retired judge Graham (Tom Wilkinson), who is wistful about a happy youth spent in India; and lovesick singles Madge (Celia Imrie) and Norman (Ronald Pickup), who are on the lookout for new mates, either of the temporary or permanent kind. The hotel of the title is a rundown complex that’s in the process of being disastrously revamped by Sonny (Dev Patel, whose aggressively boisterous energy and fondness for repeating the words "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" instead of just "hotel" is presumably meant to be charming, but comes off as grating and borderline offensive), who himself is having his own romantic and familial conundrums. Read More...


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