The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

If I had a nickle for every time I decided to not yet watch The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, I’d probably have at least $1.50 by now. I remember seeing it in the movie rental store Family Video, back when rental stores existed where I live. I would walk by the B section, glance at it, and mumble “Not today.”

And then they announced the sequel. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I saw a trailer, not actually knowing what the first one was about. Then I realized I had to hurry and watch the first one by early March, or else I wouldn’t get to see the sequel in theaters!

And here we are in July. I can say not getting to see the sequel in theaters was apparently a perfectly acceptable decision!

Old People
Much like my stereotype of the characters in the film, I would get to it when I get to it, dagnabbit.

Sonny (Dev Patel) has an idea. He is going to take his inherited family hotel and turn it into a lush amazing retirement home for Americans and British people to come to, to die. He is the third son and no one expects anything of him. His mom (Lillete Dubey) just wants him to come home for an arranged marriage, and doesn’t want him to marry Sunaina (Tina Desai). Too bad. He has dreams.

And this group of old people are his guinea pigs. That sounds sadistic, but really the film is about these gentle people ready to die.

Like Jean (Penelope Wilton) and Douglas (Bill Nighy), who have lost most of their money due to investing in their offspring and need some cheap place to go. And Evelyn (Judi Dench) who needs to sell off her house to pay off debts left by her late husband and needs somewhere cheap to go. She also is our blogger and narrator! And Muriel (Maggie Smith), who actually hates India but needs somewhere cheap to go for hip replacement surgery.

The theme here being people who want to go someplace cheap and far away for reasons.

Unless you are Graham (Tom Wilkinson), who retired suddenly and went back to India where he grew up for secret reasons. And finally we have Madge (Celia Imrie) and Norman (Ronald Pickup), looking for love and youth. But not young love, don’t be creepy.

Ride Hard
This could be the most exciting falcon punch warm up.

The best part of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is that it went exactly as I expected and thus, my delay of watching the film seems justified. Sure, one could argue I forced the movie to be as good as my brain let it be, but I gave it as fair of a shake as I would give most films I know nothing about.

At times, the film was touching, at times I smiled a bit, but I didn’t find it to be great in either the drama or the comedy regards. Tom Wilkinson has the best plot, hands down, and some of the plots don’t feel like I should have even mentioned them in the plot details. But that would be harsh to ignore a couple of the main cast members. After Wilkinson, I enjoyed Patel’s story line and thought the Nighy/Wilton plot was unique enough. Everything else was closer to a miss than an barely hit for me.

If anything, this movie just has too much going on in it. There are eight residents of the hotel, only a couple that have overlapping plot points for their own journeys, AND the owner of the hotel with his own story. So much going on, crammed into two hours, and I couldn’t connect with all the characters. Having so many people makes it feel like they are shooting with a shotgun, hoping the spread would hit enough people to make enough people love the film.

I do think a sequel can be better though. We will have established characters, some with finished plot lines from the first film, so they are easier to understand allowing for even newer characters to take the spotlight. The movie finishes pretty damn average, but it does lay down enough foundation for better films down the line.

2 out of 4.

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