Movie Review: 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' -- 3 stars
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Directed by John Madden
Starring Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilson, Dev Patel
Everything is getting outsourced these days, and for the senior citizens in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," they're about to outsource their retirement to India.
The motley crew includes an impressive roster of British actors: Judi Dench plays Evelyn, a widow who discovers her recently deceased husband left her with a surprise debt; Maggie Smith is Muriel, a xenophobic ex-housekeeper in need of a new hip, which is much cheaper to get in India; Tom Wilkinson portrays Graham, a High Court judge looking to return to his childhood home; and Bill Nighy plays Douglas, the husband of the dour Jean (Penelope Wilton). The cast is rounded out by Madge (Celia Imrie), who is always on the look out for a new rich husband, and Norman (Ronald Pickup), a late-in-life lothario looking for a rise.
After cutting ties with the mother country, the retirees make their way to Jaipur, India, where culture shock immediately punches most of them in the face. For some of them, it's too much; for others, it's just the right kick in the pants to give them a new lease on life.
The seniors are all staying at the title hotel, which in the pamphlet looked like an opulent paradise, but in reality is a dilapidated, rundown place with broken furniture and rooms with no doors. The hotel is run by dreamer Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel, "Slumdog Millionaire"), who can only see the potential in the building he's dedicated his life to rebuilding.
Despite its large ensemble cast, director John Madden ("Shakespeare in Love") is able to keep the narrative flowing and give each of the characters their due.
Wilkinson is delightful as he heads off into the city, playing cricket with some local boys. Dench shines with her cheer-worthy feel-good moments.
While there are a few big shockers, the plot unfolds at a somewhat predictable pace. But there is no denying the charm found watching these characters explore a new world and rediscover themselves.