Film: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a 2011 film starring Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, Celia Imrie, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith and Dev Patel. Its seven main characters are retired British people, who are all staying at the eponymous hotel after despairing of life back in Blighty.

Evelyn is recently-widowed and is forced to sell her home to pay off her deceased husband's debts, leaving her facing having to move in with her well-meaning but patronising son and his family.

Muriel is a rather racist old lady who's in badly in need of a hip-replacement, with the choice of either sitting on a 6-month waiting list to get the operation done in England, or letting the hospital outsource her to India (which is full of Indians(!)).

Douglas and Jean are a recently-retired couple who are left short of funds after an apparently unwise investment of their retirement fund, and who don't yet feel they're anywhere near old enough to move into the sheltered accommodation that they can afford.

Graham is a High Court judge who walks out part way through his own retirement party, declaring somewhat cryptically "Today is the day."

Norman and Madge are both single, past their best, and lonely. Madge wants a wealthy husband so that she can live out her twilight years in comfort and luxury; while Norman is struggling to deal with the sex drive of a teenager in the body of a pensioner.

And Sonny is an enthusiastic young man who has inherited a "characterful" hotel from his late father, and who isn't going to let a little thing like cold, stark reality get in the way of his dreams.

A sequel, entitled The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, was released February 2015, with all surviving main characters returning, and David Strathairn and Richard Gere playing main roles.

This film provides examples of:

  • Anything That Moves: Norman, most definitely, and apparently Madge as well.
    Sunaina I am so sorry!!
    Madge Don't be. It's the most action I've had in weeks!
  • Arranged Marriage: Sonny's mum wants to marry him off to a wealthy girl from Delhi.
  • Bollywood Nerd: Subverted. Sonny tries to present himself as a precocious business genius, but he is horrible at running the hotel and seems to have problems with maths.
  • Brick Joke: When the guests arrive at the hotel, Madge swaps rooms with Sonny because hers doesn't have a door and his does. It seems like a throwaway line at first, until later in the movie where Sunaina ends up naked in bed with Madge.
  • Bury Your Gays: Graham. Almost immediately after his subplot is complete. No need for him to have a supporting role in a sequel.
  • Cool Old Guy and Cool Old Lady: Simply put, it's their movie.
    • A perhaps defining moment is when Graham comes out to his new friends as gay, and nobody so much as bats an eyelid. Given their age-range, this is particularly surprising.
  • December-December Romance: full of this, notably a rare inversion of Nobody Over 50 Is Gay with Graham and his childhood sweetheart/servant.
  • Dirty Old Man: Norman.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Why Jean's attempt to make a move on Graham doesn't work out too well. He actually says Sorry, I'm Gay almost verbatim.
  • Large Ham: Of all people, Dev Patel!
  • Meaningful Name: Sonny.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Madge, briefly, by Sonny's mother.
  • My Beloved Smother: Played with. Sonny's mother is over-controlling and insensitive to her son's dreams and feelings - but, given Sonny's inability to properly manage the hotel, her actions are at least partly justified.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Douglas spends the night getting high at a brothel. We only learn about this after his night-traveling montage, but the scene would have been spectacular as acted by Nighy.
  • Operator from India: Sonny's girlfriend works in a call centre, and Evelyn also takes up a job coaching Indian operators in English culture.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Sonny's mother is eager to exercise this.
  • Polish The Turd: The decrepit hotel is advertised as a dream holiday spot.
  • Precision F-Strike: Sonny to Sunaina's brother, when finally confessing his love for her.
  • Racist Grandma: Muriel. (Though she's not a grandmother.)
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jean gets a spectacular one after her movie long constant criticism of Douglas and everything else culminates in her butting in to complain as he comforts Evelyn about her own husband.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: A Running Gag: Sonny speaks English using overblown, florid vocabulary, even when he's being personal and not simply shilling his hotel. It gets pretty dissonant in one scene towards the end, when he encounters Evelyn on the street and informs her of the hotels impending closure, turning on his best managerial tone yet increasingly unable to hold back his bitter frustration.
  • Straight Gay: Graham
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Muriel.
  • Type Caste: Indian caste stratification is specifically addressed in the movie.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Sonny. Though unlike how this usually goes, he actually doesn't have all the skills he needs to achieve his dream.

The sequel provides examples of:

  • Advertised Extra: David Strathairn appears in about two scenes, yet is listed in the trailers and posters with the main cast.
    • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Lavinia Beach gets about as much screentime as Guy, yet Tamsin Greig is absent from said trailers and posters. Carol appears in the trailer, getting one line ("Both here", in unison with Norman), but Diana Hardcastle is not listed with the main cast.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comparison:
    Jean: I couldn't resist the chance to come out and visit the old crumbling ruins. And see how the hotel was doing as well. (Bursts out laughing, not joined by the others.)
  • Bilingual Backfire: Invoked by Evelyn's partner, who coaches her to say something in Hindi after he starts mocking her to the man they're negotiating with, giving him the (correct) impression she can't understand them.
  • December-December Romance: Evelyn and Douglas get a relationship upgrade, as do Norman and Carol, while Guy ends up with Mrs. Kapoor.
  • Exact Words: Ty Burley tells Sonny and Muriel that they'll be sending a "guy" to evaluate the hotel, undercover as a guest. When Guy Chambers shows up, Sonny makes the obvious assumption and gives him the royal treatment while virtually ignoring Lavinia Beech, who checked in at the same time. The twist is that Sonny is right - Lavinia is undercover for a competing company.
  • Fake Brit: In-Universe, Lavinia Beach, making her actress Tamsin Greig a Fake American.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Many of the character's problems could be solved by them taking the time to sit and talk.
  • Shipper on Deck: Several for Douglas and Evelyn, including Jean (albeit partly because she wants to be able to claim adultery as grounds for divorce).
  • Whole Plot Reference: The plot thread about the undercover hotel inspectors is pretty clearly based on the Fawlty Towers episode "The Hotel Inspectors", except Sonny guesses correctly who was sent by Burley.