PHOENIX -- I don’t know why so many people think “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is a bad name for a movie. I guess they’d be banging their heads if they knew the title of the movie is really “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful”! I myself thought the name just sounded, well, exotic. But as good old Willy Shakes himself said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. Because, trust me, movies just don’t get much sweeter than “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”.
For a variety of reasons, predominately financial, several British retirees are enticed to spend their golden years in affordable splendor at what they believe to be a beautifully restored hotel in India. At least that’s what the brochure promises. But when the intrepid travelers brave the long flight, cancelled connection, crowded bus and crazed took tooks in Jaipur, they arrive to find a dilapidated beauty whose best days are clearly behind her. Like decades behind her.
Confused, tired and cranky, each traveler reacts in their own unique way. When one of them accuses the proprietor of pulling a bait and switch routine with a photoshopped brochure, the overly amiable young man insists that renovations are indeed underway to make the Marigold Hotel ‘the’ destiny for cash strapped seniors looking for luxury. So begins the adventure and challenge of a lifetime for a group of strangers bound by necessity, each with an agenda. Some are looking for a chance at love just one more time. Others for a chance to be needed once again. And one in particular is on a last ditch pilgrimage to reconnect with his past.
You know that old saying ‘beauty is in the eye of the holder’ was never truer than when I saw the first shot of the Marigold Hotel. Where the travelers saw a mess I saw breathtakingly romantic ruins. By the movie’s end, I’m happy to say that they saw the hotel and Jaipur they way they looked in my eyes: exotic, charming and romantic.
The cast is filled with some of Britain’s finest thespians. The great Maggie Smith is a senior in need of an affordable hip replacement and a major attitude adjustment. She is a joy to watch as a racist old witch who transforms into a strict but loving swan. Dame Judi Dench is the lonely widow with an optimistic, can- do spirit. Bill Nighy is superb as the easy going, but brow beaten hubby of very convincingly mean spirited Penelope Winton as his wife. Tom Wilkinson is heartbreakingly tender as the man trying to recapture the magic of his youth while Ronald Pickup is an absolute scream as the skirt chaser looking for one more romp.
Rounding out the cast of veterans is fresh faced and utterly adorable Dev Patel of “Slumdog Millionaire” fame. As the young man with a dream of restoring his family’s hotel to its former glory and defying his mother’s demands by choosing his own mate, he is charm on steroids.
While seeing a movie about a group of seniors looking to retire cheaply in India might not sound like your cup of chai, I promise you will not find a movie filled with more love, laughs and a healthy dose of introspection on what makes life worth living. I highly recommend you take this trip around the world and enjoy a stay at “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful.”
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” checks in with 4 Red Vines for being a sweet adventure
A preview of this movie was provided to me by the studio but it in no way affects my unbiased review.