The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is aimed at adults -- grandparents, actually. But that doesn't mean that teenagers can't see it, because there are lots of worthwhile inter-generational lessons about class issues, travel, friendship, tolerance, and what constitutes a healthy marriage. Expect some language (one "f--k," plus a few "s--t"s and other curses), a few racist comments (which are clearly portrayed as ignorant), and sexuality (a young couple kisses passionately, one character reminisces about a gay love affair, and another two are fixated on finding romance) -- including a couple of erection jokes. But with its stellar cast and humorous take on adventure in the "golden years," there's no reason teens can't join their parents in watching.
What's the story?
The brochure for THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, an all-inclusive resort for "the elderly and beautiful" in India, convinces a motley crew of English seniors to book a stay there. Evelyn (Judi Dench), a recently widowed housewife, is looking for her first real adventure; Graham (Tom Wilkinson), a retired high-court judge, is returning to the commonwealth home of his youth; The Ainsleys (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton) lost their savings and need a place to reset; racist Mrs. Donnelly (Maggie Smith) needs a hip replacement at an Indian hospital; and Norma (Celia Imrie) and Norman (Ronald Pickup) are lonely and looking for love. Running the hotel is young Sonny (Dev Patel), who desperately needs the idea to be a success, or his doting mother will ship him back to Delhi and force him into an arranged marriage.
Is it any good?
Leave it to the English to show Hollywood that a dramedy starring a who's who of seniors (at 59, Imrie is the youngest cast member) can be loads funnier, sweeter, and more romantic than the kind of forgettable fluff that passes for romcoms here week in and week out. The stellar cast (featuring both of the Downton Abbey grandes dames!) is fabulous, but what else would you expect from such a winning group of British thespians? Not only is it a delight to watch Smith play a narrow-minded, working-class woman for once, but it's also amazing to see Nighy, who often romances much younger actresses on screen, paired up with someone older than him.
The plot is admittedly thin, but that doesn't stop director John Madden from exploring the taboo issues of getting older: depression, sexuality, dissatisfaction, even death. But all of the transformations are captured in a way that's touching and humorous to witness. Audiences completely unaware or unappreciative of dry British humor may not "get" some of the subtler, genius lines, but the dialogue is full of rich, laugh-aloud lines. Take the sarcastic witticisms of snarky Mrs. Ainsley, who barks at her husband: "When I want your opinion, I'll give it to you." This is the perfect "take your mother to the movies" pick, but it would also make a fine "show the kids how it's done" selection.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel's messages about transformation and travel. Does the movie make you want to visit India or somewhere else you've never been?
Why are there so few movies and TV shows that feature older characters? Teens: Does seeing a mostly 60-and-up cast make you not want to see a movie? Why?
What does the movie have to say about romantic relationships? Which of the relationships in the movie are healthy, and which aren't?