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Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Movies | Despite a great cast, film is frequently boring and only occasionally funny

Issue: "Trouble in Egypt," June 2, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG-13 for brief language and sexuality) ought to have been an excellent movie. Its star-studded British cast-including Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, and Dame Maggie Smith-plus its humorous premise that even old age can be outsourced to India should have equaled a hilarious and poignant look at the trials of aging and the joy of living. Unfortunately, it didn't.

In this frequently boring and occasionally funny story, seven British retirees head to India in hopes of finding a cheaper and more adventuresome retirement. The characters include a random sampling of many adult communities-the grizzled grandpa who fudges his age for his speed dating profile, the recent widow whose husband squandered their wealth, the unhappily married couple who brag about their 40 years of marriage but can't bear each other's company, the racist battle-ax in need of a hip replacement, the cougar on the hunt for a rich bachelor, and the linen-suited judge in search of a piece from his past.

Dissatisfied or unable to afford retirement in England, they stumble upon an advertisement for "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful." After a long and harried trip to India, they discover their Indian host, Sunny, exaggerated their accommodations. The walls are crumbling and birds inhabit the dust-crusted rooms, but the elderly cadre can't easily hop a jet back to London, so they stay.

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The noisy, chaotic, colorful world they find themselves in is invigorating to some and a torment to others. Predictably, those who embrace the change thrive, but those who don't become smaller people. If that's not boring enough, director John Madden throws politics into the picture via the retired judge (Tom Wilkinson)-a closet homosexual who reveals his orientation to his new friends and enlists their help in finding his long, lost love interest.

After two hours, the plodding tale mercifully ends having euthanized the original punchy premise and killed any interest we might have had in these characters.

Stephanie Perrault
Stephanie Perrault

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