The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Fabulously acted retiree drama will appeal more to parents.
  • Review Date: May 2, 2012
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 122 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There are some wonderful messages in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel -- like that love shouldn't be based on class or family background and that it's never too late to try something new, change your life, or learn about a different culture.

Positive role models

Each of the characters is a role model (with the possible exception of Mrs. Ainsley, who's difficult and narrow-minded and doesn't really change much). Evelyn bravely takes her very first job and loves it, Graham rights the biggest wrong of his life, Douglas finds the silver lining of being in a country he's never visited before, and Madge and Norman look for romance even though some would say they're too old for it. Even "Young" Sonny stands up to his mother in order to follow his dream of running the hotel for seniors and marrying the woman he loves.


One character dies unexpectedly.


A few of the couples flirt, and there are jokes about Viagra-like pills. Sonny and Suneina kiss passionately, and in one scene she strips to get into bed with him, only to discover that he's not the person in the bed.


One "f--k," plus a few uses of "s--t," "bollocks," "crap," "hell," "sod it," "oh my God," etc. One character makes several racist remarks at the beginning of the movie, when she refuses to see a black and then South Asian doctor. She wants an "English" (white) doctor.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking at dinners and at a hotel bar.

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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 4, 2012
DVD release date:September 18, 2012
Cast:Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith
Director:John Madden
Studio:Fox Searchlight
Run time:122 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sexual content and language

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Written byAnonymous March 5, 2015
age 12+

Comedical filled drama/romance is to boring for kids

My rating: PG-13 for language,sexual refrences and thematic elements
Parent Written bytipping July 14, 2012
age 11+

My 12 year old girl loved this movie!

Adult Written byJanMarie65 May 13, 2012
age 3+

Delightful and inspiring

Delightful movie, highlighting courage in the face of dilemma, highlighting values and intelligence, highlighting a never ending sense of adventure ....
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written byRachael_Sim November 8, 2014
age 13+

Outstanding Film

Quite frankly, this is one of my favourite films. I'm a teenager, and I found it suitable for people around my age. Swearing, racism, alcohol and several jokes of a sexual nature are included, but it's nothing too strenuous. The racism is awful at first - as racism is - but the character slowly learns not to be racist and has a beautiful change of heart.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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