The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)

Just stay where you are British people. Nobody else needs your wit!

This tells the story of a group of misfit British pensioners who are enticed to retire to a fabulous hotel in Jaipur, India, where they are promised to live a life of luxury for a bargain price. Upon their arrival, they are dismayed to find that restoration of the once elegant Marigold Hotel has stalled.

With ‘The Avengers’ coming out this weekend, it seems like all of the giddy youngsters, action-happy teens, and die-hard nerds will all be flocking to the theaters, so what about the older peeps out there? Well, they get junk like this.

Director John Madden obviously knows what he’s doing with any given material (hell, the guy won an Oscar for it) but for some reason, he kind of loses his touch here. The whole script is pretty much one big message of showing how old people can be young again, and that’s not so bad but the film tries to show that in so many cheesy and obvious ways that it starts to become really eye-rolling after awhile. There are a couple of moments where the film shows some warmth between these characters as they partake in everyday, shoot the shit conversations, but when this film starts to get emotional and trying to have us cry, then it just gets schmaltzy.

There are barely any surprises here whatsoever, and even though I don’t need to see something new or original in every movie I check out, I would still like to see some surprises with this story. However, I barely got any of that and plenty of it just feels like a bunch of bad TV-movie clichés Actually, that’s what bothered me the most about this flick because even though they definitely do have genuinely funny moments here, they are all out-numbered by all of the other times that this movie wants to show us how funny and goofy old people can be. Better yet, how funny and goofy old, BRITISH people can be. Doesn’t work and rather than actually doing something new with its source material, the film just throws us down over-used jokes like old people using Viagra. Really!??! Come on!

Even though the source material itself may fail, it definitely does look pretty. It’s pretty much expected that whenever you film in India, your film is going to look 10 times better than if you were to film in say, Wisconsin. Everything is so bright, everything is so colorful, and everything is always so hectic, where everybody is constantly moving in and around that it almost feels like people are all running away from Udaipur, to survive the fore-coming apocalypse. This film definitely has a lot of beauty to it and may even inspire you to go out there and check everything out for yourself, even though I don’t really think that they would have retirement homes as good as the one they have here.

However, all of those beautiful images are pretty much put to waste once again, when Madden decides to get really, really corny with us. Madden plants a lot of the obvious images like children playing and being happy, or a bird flying in the sky, or even the trees’ leaves, flowing in the wind. It’s all so damn obvious and gets worse and worse just as this film continues to constantly hit us over-the-head with everything here. Dammit Madden! I mean ‘The Debt’ was no classic by any means, but at least it was a lot better than this crappola.

Of course, everybody who wants to see this film, is mainly attracted because of the cast on display here and even as good as some of these all-stars may be, they still can’t seem to get by a shitty script such as this. Judi Dench is lovely as Evelyn, but all of her problems in life are as boring as watching paint dry; Bill Nighy brings a lot of his usual, dry wit to his role here as Douglas, but can’t seem to bring too much character to somebody as dull as this dude; Ronald Pickup is charming as the old, horny dude named Norman, even though he is very under-used; Maggie Smith is pretty much a bitch to everybody around her about 90% of the movie, and the other 10% is some cheesy, emotional arc to her that seems to have come out of nowhere; Celia Imrie plays Jean, and seems like she was totally misplaced in a movie about a bunch of boring, old people; and Penelope Wilton is the most annoying character here as Jean.

The only two performances that I think actually brought something here were the ones given by Tom Wilkinson and Dev Patel. Wilkinson gives this very sweet, charming, and mysterious performance as a dude that always seems up to something but it’s not quite known and he plays that up perfectly. Patel is also very spirited in a role that sees him bringing out a lot of comedic energy in his performance, as well as always bringing me a smile to my face even if his romance seems to get very stupid and non-meaningful. Two good performances still don’t make up for a whole bunch of lousy other ones though.

Consensus: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel looks pretty, but is still one of the cheesiest and schmaltziest stories I have seen in quite some time, with a very talented cast that is pretty much wasted, and a bunch of sappy moments that show us how you can always live young and have fun. Yeah I know how! Go see The Avengers!



  1. Awww. 😦 It’s a shame that this is just saccharine shmaltz. They’ve certainly filled it with enough good people to have achieved something significantly better. I still would like to see it, but I’m not as excited. Sometimes shmaltz can have a weird “storybook” energy that somehow works–like Spielberg’s War Horse. This sounds like it’s actually trying to be a little bit sophisticated, though. Great review.

    • I wonder if this film hasn’t translated well in the US. When it was released here in March it was quite sucsessful and well recieved. It took loads of money from the ‘grey pound’ but stayed around the top 10 for a few weeks. I enjoyed it.

  2. Wow, you didn’t like it did you?

    I agree it is smaltzy, poorly paced and lazy in it’s out of nowhere plot developments. But I disagree with your comments on Celia Imrie, clearly doing the best work here but wasted.

  3. “this movie wants to show us how funny and goofy old people can be. Better yet, how funny and goofy old, BRITISH people can be.”

    Huh. I read this as an assumption that this British film was made for an American audience.

  4. Woah, three out of 10. Too harsh, too, too harsh. It was cheesey, and schmaltzy, but far better than some of the cheese out there. Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy alone make it worth the effort. Besides it was a huge hit with older audiences, just like Salmon fishing in the Yemen. End of the day, I don’t really think it was for people our age(s).

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