Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review: Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

When a group of retirement age Brits find that their plans for the golden years have been interrupted by finances, they all end up in India at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful. The hotel is run by Sonny, the youngest in his family, he's desperate to live to the success of his older brothers as well as convince his mother to let him marry his sweetheart, Sunaina. During their stay at the hotel, each of the retirees learns something about themselves and discovers whether or not India is really for them.

The cast of this film is fantastic, in fact it was the main draw of the film for me. Veteran actors and actresses Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, and Penelope Wilton lead the cast. Each have their own separate, but intersecting story lines. Overall, the film balances these stories fairly well, giving each actor time to shine. Maggie Smith was a definite highlight in her role as a former nanny who needs a hip replacement. Her journey overcoming her prejudices through a friendship with an untouchable woman who works at the hotel is compelling and funny. Unfortunately we never see much screen time between Smith and Dench. Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionare manages to hold his own with a cast of stage and screen legends as the sometimes self-effacing Sonny.
It was a charming, affable British comedy. Part of the problem was that it was a little too wrapped up in its own humorous charm. The plots were largely predictable, coming to satisfying, but in no way challenging, endings. In a few instances they get very close to hitting on some meaty substance, but don't delve too deeply into it in spite of some promising themes. For a lazy summer afternoon, it's a perfect film to enjoy with your family. There are plenty of funny moments that stay classy for the most part. There's no extreme raunchiness or vulgarity, just the occasional naughty euphemism perhaps. It is witty and the cast has great chemistry with each other.
I would recommend it for those that love British comedies with lots of heart.

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