Urgh. This looks like one of those “spiritual journey” type movies where people have to travel to exotic destinations in order to find the meaning of life (as they’re unlikely to find it bumbling around in Peckham). But glancing at the cast list which includies both Judi Dench and Maggie Smith as well as Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson, it might be worth more than a cursory glance.
A group of English pensioners abandon their homeland to stay at “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, a sanctuary for the elderly in India. But upon arrival, they discover that it’s not quite the paradise promised in the brochure (having neglected to check online for any review of course). There to change their mind is Dev Patel (who has a contract with all major studios that anyone Indian must be played by him), an optimistic young manager, who takes them on a new “adventure”.
Well let’s take a look shall we:
00.00: We open with some swelling optimistic strings. This is going to be upbeat and quirky see?
00.18: Oh, you can just tell there’s going to be a lame but ultimately harmless joke coming up… Ah, there is it courtesy of Bill Nighy. Apparently it’ll be “like the Costa Brava but with more elephants”. Hilarious I’m sure you’ll agree.
00.27: Some casual racism now, which will no doubt set up a later juxtaposition of expectations vs. reality to comic effect. Ha, they have planes in India! How clever. Who could imagined that little brown people could be so clever? Ha ha!
00.30: Ah, but you you see, they drive dangerously, so she was right all along. Barbarians.
00.52: Dev Patel welcomes you in exuberant style. Is it me or are his hands razor-sharp?
00.54: Maggie Smith hates Indian people so much, it makes her try to inhale the camera. She might have thought of that before, you know, going to India.
01.16: Ah, some actual jokes now. Dev Patel has “a dream to create a home for the elderly so wonderful, that they simply refuse to die”. Not patronising your guests might be a good start though.
01.43: The funny bit’s over everyone; it’s time for some serious inspirational mulch. Cue the drippy, soaring emo bullshit song. Cue the slow motion montages showing how beautiful India is, with no shots whatsoever of armless beggars. “What do you see in this country that I don’t?” “The light, colours, smiles; all of life is here”. Hurrah! Tom Wilkinson makes it everything all right with a vaguely patronising overview of India’s wonders! Hurrah!
02.05: Ah, now for some cod self-help spew from Dev Patel. Why is it that people think that pseudo-spiritual mumbo jumbo is intrinsically more valuable if it comes from an exotic location? “Everything will work out all right in the end. So if it’s not all right, then it’s not the end”. Sounds good right? Probably didn’t think about all those starving people that scrounge a living picking discarded rubbish off landfill sites…
02.18: Surprisingly, it ends on quite a good joke “You’re not worried about the danger of having sex at your age?” “If she dies, she dies”. Is that a sly reference to Rocky IV? And if so, is Ronald Pickup suggesting that he’s a bedroom Ivan Drago? The horror, the horror…
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is out February 24th next year.