Last night, I had the privilege of attending the US Premiere of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (for Elderly and Beautiful People)” That is the official title, even though it is too long to fit on most billboards or ads, so they shortened it, according to the movie’s director, John Madden who has also directed such popular films as “Mrs. Brown” and “Shakespeare In Love”. He and others from the cast and crew, including Dame Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, and Bill Nighy were in attendance at the Ziegfield Theater in Manhattan and walked the red carpet before the premiere. (Continued below the picture!)
The story starts out in the UK introducing us to the British retirees who are facing various trials and tribulations as they each cope with their own golden years, from the newly widowed Evelyn, played by Dame Judi Dench (who finds it terribly frustrating trying to get anything remotely resembling “technical support” from the Indian call center she is connected to) to Dame Maggie Smith’s character, Muriel, who is an unwillingly retired housekeeper who was put out to pasture by the family she had cared for lovingly over many years, leaving her with no family of her own. Facing a six month waiting list for a badly needed hip replacement due to the UK’s N.H.S. medical system, she opts to be “outsourced” to India for a revolving door surgery in spite of her sharp tongued racism and bitterness.
Then there is Judge Graham who spontaneously decides “Today is the day.” after procrastinating about retirement for several years. He had grown up in India as a young man where he developed a loving but forbidden companionship with a young Indian man, and hopes to return to locate the only man he ever loved 40 years later. Others have their own issues that all seem to be hopefully solved when they see the advertisement for “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” in Jaipur, India where their retirement money will go much farther and they can live a life of leisure and luxury which they’ve longed for.
Upon arriving in Jaipur via “trucktruck” which is a motorized rickshaw, they discover that the “Exotic Hotel” isn’t quite the palatial garden of eden that it had been portrayed as. The hotel is now being managed by “Sonny”, played by Dev Patel of “Slumdog Millionaire” fame, after he inherited the run-down hotel and dreams of its success from his father. He had come up with the marketing scheme that the only thing India had not outsourced from Western Civilization was the care of their retired citizens, so he was looking to begin that new trend.
As each of the Brits deal with their own discoveries of the magic of Indian culture, from the cuisine to the constantly begging children, Sonny tries his best to secure an injection of capital funding to bring his Marigold dreams to fruition. The movie is fraught with comedy, romance, sexualism, and beautiful Indian scenery. It is not your typical “Indian Bollywood” musical. I would highly recommend seeing it if you’re looking for a comforting alternative to the vampires, superheroes, and action packed movies that fill the theaters today. Sometimes it is just good to laugh. Without the aliens, this movie reminds me a little bit of COCOON or BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED, if you are old enough to remember those priceless classics from the past. If you’re not, you should rent them!
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