Thursday, March 5, 2015

Netflix Mail Day Movie Review: "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (2011)

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Movie"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"
Director: John Madden
Year: 2011
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 4 minutes

Many different elderly people from many different walks of life are unhappy with their current place in the world. They come across a brochure for a hotel for the elderly in India called 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.' This hotel offers to pay airfare to India for its guests. Looking for a change in their lives, they take a chance and head to India. The hotel is quite run-down, but is operated by an ambitious young dreamer named Sonny (Dev Patel), who wants to make it a premier destination for seniors and does all he can to make them feel comfortable. India isn't quite like many of them expected, but as they spend more time there, it grows on them as they grow as individuals and together, showing that it's never to late to change your life. 

My mom and I saw this movie in the theater when it came out and we both loved it. It's really fun and also quite funny. When I heard they were making a sequel, I took this as an opportunity to show the movie to BigJ since I thought he might like it, too.

The reason this movie succeeds is not only because of its vibrant locale and excellent writing, but because of its extraordinary cast. Have you ever seen so many wonderful, big names in an ensemble before!? Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel...everyone in this movie is just wonderful! They all play their own individual parts very well. Bill Nighy's Douglas is the adventurous one. He is always going to see the sights and take in the Indian culture, but has to constantly either beg or force his wife Jean, played by Penelope Wilton, to get involved. Jean and her constant negativity about everything, not just India, usually sit and sulk at the hotel while everyone else is off having a fun adventure. Jean is like Muriel, only not as racist. More on that later. Their relationship is failing and we as the audience get the sense that it has been for quite some time. Judi Dench's Evelyn is the character who feels like she has the most to grow as she desperately wants to find something to fill the void in her life. She spent the better part of 40 years listening to her late husband give her orders and it's finally her time to do something for herself. Tom Wilkinson's Graham is the mysterious one, and we never really know quite what he's doing when he sneaks away in the afternoons. Graham also has a wrong from his past that he wants to right to fulfill a decade's long want and void. Maggie Smith's Muriel is quite sharp, but needs a hip replacement and doesn't want to wait 6 months in England to get it done, so she travels to India for an immediate, cheaper fix. The only problem is, she's painfully racist towards the people of India and refuses to try anything new or get to know anyone while she's there, perceiving all people of the country to be scary and only possessing the worst qualities. Much like Jean in that respect, at least Muriel is confined to a wheelchair most of the time and has a British sense of humor about her, at least enough to crack a joke. Ronald Pickup's Norman and Celia Imrie's Madge provide the bulk of this movie's humor as the only two people in the film who want to be young again to prove that they are still spry and have what it takes to get down and dirty in Jaipur. I always got the sense that these two would hook up in the end, but do they? You find out! Together, this band of geriatric misfits come together in a splendid fashion full of drama, romance, laughter, intrigue, sadness, self-discovery, rebirth and renewal. The reason they end up staying at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is because of Dev Patel's character Sonny. Optimistic but foolish, naive but promising, Sonny is the perfect host, and even though his hotel is both figuratively floundering due to a lack of cash flow and literally floundering in a dilapidated foundation, his upbeat demeanor could sell a ketchup Popsicle to a woman in white gloves.

The purpose of this movie is to show that, even when you're older and possibly at the end of your life, you should still live the life you want, not the one that you feel like you have to be stuck in until you die. Though it is about the latter and often more dismal portion of these people's lives, the colors, sounds, location, music and culture of "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" are anything but dismal. Though there are some sad parts to this film, the majority of it will make you smile and laugh your way through this group's journey.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 78%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?


  1. I did like this film but I am not sure on "The Second best Marigold Hotel.

    1. Neither are we, but we liked the original and the sequel has gotten generally positive reviews online, so that's good! The one we're not so sure about is "Chappie".