The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movie review


My Score: 80%

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel stars every British actor you’ve ever heard of that’s older, still alive and NOT Michael Caine.  Despite that fact, the screenplay is not especially well constructed, and when I saw the trailer, I began to wonder why these folks would want to make such a movie at this point in their lives.  I wouldn’t exactly say the story is full of holes or all of the dialogue is terrible, but I guess the lesson here is that even “Mary Had A Little Lamb” sounds awesome when played by a master violinist on a Stradivarius, because this movie is trite and cliche from start to finish, and it’s still pretty good.

Movie posters are remarkable – this poster gives you almost no information about the movie.  Just that it’s an ensemble cast and probably takes place in the middle east.  Yet the clues are there; you can infer this is a bad movie because it’s using it’s space to boast it’s star power rather than giving you an clue as to what the story is about – they even squeezed Dev Patel down there, although he’s the only man not looking into the camera.  Women can’t look into the camera, because that would be…  shit, I don’t know.  Maybe the idea is only white men can look into the camera.  Maybe that’s it.  In any case, I could just as easily guess that this movie is about a bunch of investors buying a hotel in India  as I could its actual plot from looking at this poster, and I think that’s intentional.  I don’t necessarily want to see a movie about investors buying a hotel, but the actual plot of this movie isn’t all that exciting.

spoiler alert

The Plot and the Screenplay
Now that you’ve watched the trailer, you know that this is one of those fish out of water stories about older folks getting their groove back, and in one form or another, you’ve seen this movie several times before.  That, in itself, annoys me.  If you’re going to assemble an All Star Cast that could literally bludgeon me to death with their Oscars, why put them in this movie?  Still, the performances are wonderful and the directing and photography kick ass, so in spite of the plot, this is an enjoyable picture.

The script itself has tiresome jokes, many of which appear in the trailer.  Still, the cast is so charming and talented that they deliver you crap and tell you it’s mango and you believe them.

Judi Dench plays…  well, a Judi Dench role.  Still, she’s always great, and that’s all you can say about that.  Bill Nighy is a charming mother fucker, and he’s up to his usual tricks here.  Neither Dench nor Nighy are given anything especially interesting to do, but they make it work.  As far as their stories go…  you’ve heard them before.  Dev Patel is also there, just doing his thing, pushing his inspiring message to the old folks, the cliche character that shows up and does what they’re supposed to in the “I’m trying to drive you to the store!” vein.

Celia Imrie plays the role of Blanche from The Golden Girls. Ronald Pickup also plays the role of Blanche from The Golden Girls.   Nuff said.

Maggie Smith plays the racist character who overcomes her racism.  She complains about the Indian food a lot but never once transfigures it into something she’s prefer.  Anyway, Penelope Wilton plays the racist character who doesn’t overcome her racism and is in love with Tom Wilkinson (despite being married for 40 years) because…  he’s a judge.  Or rather, former judge.

Tom Wilkinson has, by far, the most interesting character with the most compelling story, so of course, he’s not the star of the movie.

There’s just lots of little things that all mound up into one big cliche hill:

  1. The Internet is complicated
    1. It’s not 1999; that’s not funny anymore
  2. Old people having sex?!?
    1. again, Blanche from The Golden Girls
  3. Old people naked?!?
    1. ugh, he’s dancing in the shower.  Am I the only one who saw About Schmidt?  Ten years ago?

And so on.  Most of it is in the trailer.

The movie hands you a map to the end within the first  5 minutes.  Even if I didn’t give it away already, you can guess exactly what happens to everyone at the end of the movie almost as soon as you meet them, and you’ll be right.  Do you think Dev Patel doesn’t marry his dream girl, loses the hotel and moves back to Delhi with his mom at the end?  Yeah, probably not.

The Director
John Madden does a great job, but he did fuck up a few times – in a movie full of cliches, he had not one but two birds flying around at opportune moments.  When the very movie itself is a cliche, adding extra cliches to… I don’t know, enhance the drama at the end of a scene, is ultimately a shitty practice.  Unless you put my bird in your movie – my bird kicks ass.  Still, I like what Madden did here, although  I could have done without the shower dancing.


The fucking bird made it into the trailer? Unreal.

As you know, the shower dancing also made the trailer.  I have not reproduced that here as a courtesy to all of us.

The Photography
Ben Davis’ cinematography  is out of this world.  Everything looks great.  Everything.


Shooting through beaded curtains takes BALLS.

The move is people sitting around and talking, walking around and talking, and occasionally riding in a vehicle and talking or narrating.  You’ll never believe that old people sitting could look so vivid, but it does.

What else can I say?  Despite its flaws, it’s a good movie that’s worth your time and I predict you’ll enjoy, even if you’ll be “pumped so full of sap [you’ll] be blowing [your] nose with a pancake.”

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on May 30, 2012, in movie review and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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