The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) – 3.5/5

Okay film with a promising first act that sort of falls apart in the middle and gets downright hoakey and melodramatic by the end. Still, it’s funny throughout, and there are a couple of good performances here and there, namely from Tom Wilkinson and, surprisingly, Dev Patel who brings an unexpectedly wacky, over the top flair to what could have easily been a relatively mundane role.

The biggest issue with the film, though, is the writing, which, again, starts off strong, but quickly becomes stilted and clichéd. The drama feels too forced, the dialogue too spot on. Everything is spelled out for you by the characters, no thinking necessary. And most of the plot lines are contrived and silly. There’s little subtlety here, little mystery. Nothing about what happens in this film after a certain point feels natural. It’s very disappointing given how strong the first 30 minutes or so are. And the way Indian culture is portrayed via Patel’s character often borders on the offensive. Do Indian people really speak broken English to one another when in private? Really?

But it could have been worse. It is funny, and it has its moments, and the unique setting is refreshing, despite the occasional moments of inadvertent racism/cultural ignorance on the part of the filmmakers. It’s not the greatest thing ever written, but it’s not the worst either. It’s merely okay. But only just so.

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