"It's a luxury development where all the residents are in their golden years." "Like the coast of Florida?" "Yeah, but with more elephants...."
Fox / 124 Minutes / 2001 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: September 18, 2012
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has proven to be one of the most profitable international box office successes of 2012, and, well, let's just face facts: with a cast like this, how could you miss? Back in the early spring of this year, American cinemas were bombarded with Marigold's brightly-colored trailer - it seemed to run before every flick - and when images would flash from Judi Dench to Dev Patel to Tom Wilkinson and then to Maggie Smith (!), for anyone even marginally interested, this was veritable Anglo-star catnip.
And, lo and behold, the movie actually delivers on its thespian pedigree. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is never significantly more than an expertly-paced rom-com for adults, but in that genre sweet spot, the film bubbles with impassioned fervor. Funny in parts and introspectively somber in others, Marigold channels its inner Love Actually and offers clean, unobtrusive entertainment.
The setup for the movie comes swiftly and easily - a slate of aging folks with various backstories (some are recently widowed, others are waiting for surgeries to get okayed, etc.) all heed the call in an advertisement for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a place in India that will rejuvenate and inspire them to kick off their autumn years in style. Once these characters arrive at the location, though, things are not as the ad made it seem (Dev Patel as its manager tries to give it a big-smile sell, but it hardly works), and each gets a chance to embark on her/his own personal adventure.
Of course, there's an element of predictability to a movie like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but that's par for the course: director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) knows that one doesn't have to reinvent the wheel with touchy-feely pictures like this one - you just have to follow the rules and make sure your audience giggles once every ten minutes or so. And The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel totally succeeds here, letting its top-tier cast ebb and flow with the movie's lilting, gorgeously-filmed sensibilities - it becomes exactly the kind of film you want it to be, and that's a wonderful viewing reward if ever there was one.