“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” Not Just For Old Folks

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Katie Hoskins, Editor In Chief

Director John Madden’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel shines with all the brilliance and charm of a British dramatic comedy and proves that having social security and a few grandkids doesn’t mean you can’t have an adventure.

This is the classic story of never giving up and finding the hidden charms of a strange or unexpected situation. The film follows a group of folk who, for various reasons, find themselves in Jaipur, India at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a run down palace full of broken phones and cockroaches run by the charismatic and hilarious Sonny (Dev Patel). Although the hotel doesn’t exactly meet their initial expectations, the retirees learn to appreciate its charm and adapt to their new environment in the bustling city. Each character has their own adventure and the film becomes a pleasant collection of heartwarming episodes wound together by dramatic and comedic scenes. The audience leaves with an optimistic feeling that good guys do come out on top and things do work out in the end.

Because every character has their own distinctive niche in the film, it creates a group that could now be called The Breakfast Club of oldsters. There’s Evelyn (Judi Dench), the rundown housewife looking for purpose, Graham (Tom Wilkinson) a recently retired lawyer returning to the country he grew up in, and Jean (Penelope Wilton) and Douglas (Bill Nighy), the couple that drifts apart and adds drama and depth to the film. Madge (Celia Imrie) is on the prowl for a new husband and Norman (Ronald Pickup) still wants to feel needed. Then, of course, there’s the hilariously racist, but heartwarming Muriel (Maggie Smith), who needs a speedy hip surgery.

The cast of Brits we all know and love creates most of the hype for the film, and rightfully so. Dench and Smith stand out as two of the most memorable stars. Dench, once again, brings charm and realistic emotion to the screen and flawlessly plays the role of an elderly widow trapped in a fast-paced world of Internet and Indian call centers. Smith perfectly creates a grumpy, racist, frustrated old woman who is impossible not to fall in love with.

While the film does include dramatic scenes of couples bickering and old childhood friends reuniting, Ol Parker’s screenplay doesn’t skimp on comedy. Smith’s character brings hilarity to the screen with her plethora of one-liners that never fail to drive the audience to laughter. When told that she may have to wait six months before surgery in England, she replies: “I can’t plan that far ahead: I can’t even buy green bananas!” Sonny, the enthusiastic hotel owner who refuses to lose confidence in his dying hotel also provides a comedic point. It’s impossible not to smile at his ceaseless optimism and energetic lines even when delivering bad news.

The filming is also a strong point of the film for it provides a colorful, cultural backdrop for the scenes, transporting the audience to the crowded bustling Indian cities where you ride around in a tuk tuk and try not to crash into any lingering cows. It feels as if you are traveling along with the characters, falling in love with the culture and vigor of the people as you go.

As a whole, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a feel good movie for all ages that will re-introduce you to the hilarity and appeal of British comedy thanks to some of the industry’s best actors and actresses. This weekend, take break from the endless AP studying, grab a friend, and follow your favorite oldsters on an Indian adventure that has a little bit of everything.