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The Movie Scab Reviews: "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (for the Elderly and Beautiful)."

Updated on August 11, 2012

"The scab you're picking at is called execution."

--American film producer Scott Rudin.

Monkey Boy picks the movies!
Monkey Boy picks the movies!

Ack! Ack! Ack! Ack!

Monkey Boy gives The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (for the Elderly and Beautiful) 4 Acks! out of 5!

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (for the Elderly and Beautiful).

I bet President Barack Obama hates this movie. Why? It’s about stuffy British Colonials living in India. Keep the stuffy British Colonials but replace India with Kenya and the connection should be pretty clear. It’s true that the more the world gets to know President Obama, the less we know who President Obama is (for example, there are now 38 known falsehoods in his memoir Dreams from My Father and the book was written by him—I think), but the one for sure thing that everyone knows for sure about President Obama is that he for sure hates stuffy British Colonials and colonialism, and thus Monkey Boy and I reached the conclusion that he’d just hate this movie. The British Colonialists tortured his grandfather in Kenya after all—oops, sorry, that’s one of the known falsehoods now. Never happened. Total fiction. In fact, the truth about his grandfather is quite startling and not a little ironic: turns out he was the sculptor of the Winston Churchill bust, the one President Obama removed from the White House and returned to England after he moved in. Go figure.

At any rate, Monkey Boy and I did not hate this movie. Sure, it’s about stuffy British Colonials living in India, it’s as predictable as a Tootsie Pop (we know how long it takes to get to the chewy center), it’s sentimental, very pretty to look at, but at the end of the day? I left the movie theatre with a smile on my face and a genuine sense of stuffy British joie de vivre. For a movie to do that to me and Monkey Boy, make us feel that way? It’s nigh-on a miracle these days.

And best of all, we didn’t mind investing the two hours of life, time and energy it cost us to watch this movie. It usually feels like our life, time and energy, not to mention our precious bodily fluids, are gleefully and willingly flushed down Hollywood’s gigantic crapper every time we see a movie, dumped into the great celluloid sewer and wasted, lost, never to be found again. Not this time.


Maybe it’s because I’m a Canadian. I was raised under the Queen and All Things British (well, not literally under the Queen, but you get what I mean). We had tea time five times a day in my house when I was a kid. I was raised on pickled onions and cheese, lamb and Marmite—in other words, I’ve got a connection, no matter how remote (or Canadian), to these stuffy British Colonialists.

President Barack Obama, however, does not—well, not a positive one anyway (if you believe his memoir). Nor does the American moviegoing public, people like Bill O’Reilly from the Fox News Network, for example. Not a fan of the Royals.

So let me make it easy for those of you who don’t get what I’m talking about: if you like movies about stuffy old British Colonialists experiencing a foreign country that jolly old England conquered and made British a long time ago but no longer wields power over because jolly old England is falling apart as its grip on world power slips through its dead colonialist fingers (President Obama would probably much rather see that movie), it’s quite likely that you’ll enjoy this movie. If that kind of thing bothers you, like it bothers President Obama, skip it and we’ll meet in the bar afterwards and have a Beer Summit over Guinness.

The other thing I like about the United Kingdom is that they’re unafraid to make movies, or TV shows for that matter, about stuffy old British Colonialists. It’s true that thousands of elderly are dying annually in the United Kingdom because of age discrimination embedded in their national healthcare system--hey, it's easier to let them die than fix them at that age--but at least, in the very least, they’re brave enough to make movies about those stuffy old British Colonialists that are dying by the thousands. American films, like the country itself in regard to the elderly, toss seniors and their stories aside, leaving them largely ignored, if not dumped right into the wastepaper bin. That’s a shame, really. Old people have good, worthwhile and poignant stories to tell. Old people can be funny, and I’m not just talking about fart and pee jokes. Sure, they've got the market on fart and pee jokes, but a lifetime of living does for comedy what a lifetime of living does for drama. Makes for good storytelling. I, for one, am happy to listen, watch and learn.

Here’s the nutshell for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: seven British seniors of varying ages, gender and sexual lifestyles “outsource” their retirement in order to save cash by moving to India. They all end up, coincidently, at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a retirement home for “the elderly and beautiful” that turns out not only to be a rundown disaster in the making, but it has the power to change their lives.

The cast is top notch: Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Dev Patel, and they don’t disappoint and their extraordinary talent is not wasted (like some other movies I’ve seen recently. Prometheus anyone?)

My rating: start with three Pimm’s No. 1 Cups with whole slices of cucumber, add a fake English accent, tea, pickled onions, cheese and Marmite, and finish with a couple of old friendly farts from the local retirement home for company. Be kind and respectful to them and after the movie take everyone to Boston's Restaurant and Sports Bar, have a Beer Summit and discuss: President Barack Obama and his grandfather, the sculptor of Winston Churchill’s bust.


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