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Capone felt himself growing old while watching THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

Every year or two, a film comes around that is grandparent-safe, either because the cast's average age is about the same as your typical grandparent, or because the subject matter is so placid that there's no risk of offending the elderly. I suppose director John Madden's (SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN, PROOF, THE DEBT) latest THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (based on the novel by Deborah Moggach) fits the bill for bubbies around the world, if you define "safe" as something with no sharp edges or anything to substantially challenge those watching.

The problems with MARIGOLD HOTEL are simple, show up early, and rarely leave the screen. Most of the film's characters are dreadfully boring, and even the ones that eventually grow a personality in their winter years do so in a way that feel contrived, bordering on forced. The film involves a young Indian hotel manager (Dev Patel, the lead in SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE) of a somewhat broken-down establishment who advertises the the hotel as a place where older clientele can relax, and several British gray-hairs decide to take an extended vacation at the hotel, including those played by Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Tom Wilkinson, and the unstoppable Maggie Smith.

Some of the residents embrace the shortcomings of the hotel and the surrounding culture, while others flat out refuse to leave the compound. The film walks us through the trials and tribulations of each of the visitors--the lonely widow (Dench), the miserable married couple (Nighy and Wilton), the hateful spinster (Smith), and the aging gay man (Wilkinson) searching for his first love during his teen years. Some of what happens is sweet, funny, heartbreaking, and above all else, as predictable as 12:31pm following 12:30pm.

Nothing reduces a movie into its dullest parts faster than predictability. The only thing worse is being pointless, and there's a subplot involving Patel, his girlfriend, and his disapproving mother that seems to be there for no other reason than to include some Indian actors in a tale about, you know, India. So what MARIGOLD HOTEL ends up feeling like is an imitation of life. Not every movie has to have twist endings, life-altering experiences that set the character down a new path or a post-credits special scene; I get that. But Madden doesn't give us anything to actually fill us with a sense of India's transcendent qualities, and I wanted some of what these old guys were having.

Probably doing the best work in the film are Dench and Nighy, but put those two in just about any movie and that would probably be the case. Using very different techniques and possessing distinct strengths, Dench and Nighy have found ways to command the screen at all times--Dench with her powerful voice and piercing stare; Nighy with his charming uncertainty followed immediately by a nervous certainty about the direction his life needs to take.

Words like "love" and "life" and observations about how long its taken these characters so long to find pure versions of either will certainly make their way into most critical reviews of this film. And if you see that in other reviews, you'll know which critics are lazy. MARIGOLD HOTEL is about as exciting as wall paper, and you'll learn as much about restarting your life as you might from a book of stamps, and that's assuming you're able to stay awake during this excessively boring travelogue of a film. Only see this after a good night's sleep.

-- Steve Prokopy
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Readers Talkback
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  • May 4, 2012, 1:28 a.m. CST


    by Alex Fritz


  • May 4, 2012, 1:30 a.m. CST

    The title of this film is so fucking pretentious

    by Jake Pantlin


  • May 4, 2012, 1:40 a.m. CST

    Man, Capone drew the short straw here

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    Do you at least get some cool Depends branded swag?

  • May 4, 2012, 1:59 a.m. CST

    ny review from another site ...

    by Industrious Angel

    Very enjoyable film, if very predictable. Seven british retirees all fall for an internet "scam" advertising a cheap yet stylish hotel, specialising in the "old and beautiful", in indish Jaipoor. Well, it's not really a scam but the style and most of the hotel only exist in the determined mind of manager/part-owner Sonny (Dev Patel of Slumdog fame), as they learn in their first minutes there. Will they be able to survive India? While similar to "King's Speech" and "Intouchables" (underdogs beating the odds via friendships), it's more on the bitter side since the main protagonists all KNOW that death is waiting for them rather sooner than later - one even bites the dust midway through the film. Still, it's full of laughs (partly cheap ones, but most good) and strange situations and it's a joy watching those guys cope with the harsh realities in Jaipoor and in their relationships. The cast is superb - special mention: Judy Dench, John Nighy and Maggie Smith. Dev Patel tries maybe a bit too hard, he comes away as the weakest part in an otherwise effortless comedy. Most characters even get some dimension - no easy feat when you have about 8 main protagonists! Even Penelope Wilton's Jean - she's the most one-dimensional, playing simply "The Shrew" - gets a bit of depth in her last scene. Highly recommended if you like those actors and don't mind that you can guess about 90% of the script after 10 minutes.

  • May 4, 2012, 2:32 a.m. CST

    John Nighy?

    by Stale Elvis

    ...really? He's great!

  • May 4, 2012, 3:31 a.m. CST


    by paul burnett

    This site needs to ger a hold of itself an figure out who it's trying to appeal to. Maybe get the kidd to work out a mission statement or something,cos i have no fuckn idea why you have reveiwed that film on this site. If this place was a magazine it would have went belly up years ago.

  • May 4, 2012, 5:53 a.m. CST

    Why wouldn't it be reviewed

    by digital_soul

    It's a fairly important film from a UK perspective, has a great cast and has been very successful over here and spent a couple of weeks at the top of the box office charts. Clearly lots of UK people saw it and have mostly enjoyed it (as UK reviews have mostly reflected). Seeing as there is often no rhyme or reason as to which British films become hits Stateside, it seems logical that this film would be worth a look by someone on Aint it Cool.

  • May 4, 2012, 6:16 a.m. CST

    It's Carry On Abroad with a bunch of luvvies...

    by disgustingduo

    That might be a crude observation, but that what it seems to boil down to.

  • May 4, 2012, 6:55 a.m. CST

    Fuck the Avengers, I'm all over this

    by Mugato5150

    I'll have to wear a trench coat though because I'll be furiously masturbating through the whole thing.

  • May 4, 2012, 7:25 a.m. CST


    by paul burnett

    My point is, this site caters for the sci fi,fantasy,comic book,action genres. Films that people see or read about and think aint that cool! Dame Judy Dench fucking around in a hotel in India doesn't really fall into that niche.

  • May 4, 2012, 8:16 a.m. CST

    This is the film JOHN CARTER could have been.

    by _ISITIN3D_

  • May 4, 2012, 10:49 a.m. CST

    Maybe Capone thought it was going to be a porno?

    by Domi'sInnerChild

    And had to write a review to expense it.

  • May 4, 2012, 1:36 p.m. CST


    by Brian

    Stop. Just stop. I'm sick of you.

  • May 5, 2012, 8:45 a.m. CST

    Um, it doesn't sound too bad.

    by HollywoodHellraiser

    It might be predictable but sometimes a good relaxing film without all the twists and faux-violence can be a good thing. I might see something like this on Sun afternoon or after a busy day at work.

  • May 6, 2012, 2:14 a.m. CST

    mugato5150 wins the talkback, game over man

    by Tall_Boy6t6

    Everybody go home, thread over.