A Dose of British Wit: Why The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Became A Hit

by: Judi Tichacek

One particular afternoon, my mother decided she wanted to see the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I eventually found out in the conversation following that itis a movie and not an actual hotel. In spite of being somewhat relieved, going to the movie theater is something my mother loves to do and I do not. But when my mother asks me to do something with her, I cannot really blow her off no matter how much I internally protest. And that is because she is my mother.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel isn’t the greatest movie by any means. In fact, when I was looking online for some of the movie’s reviews, several of them stated that the plot was extremely trivial and the only thing that makes the movie is an all-stat British cast. That may very well be, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The staging and set was amazing; India provides a backdrop that is unique. I am absolutely bewildered how, in this background, you can watch squalor and poverty in one frame and then see romantic architecture, bright colors, and smiling faces in the next. The movie also displayed a monster-sized dichotomy of East and West. Bill Nighy’s character hated how the cuisine made him shit nonstop, but when given the opportunity to eat plain grilled food, he simply refused. Traditional Indian music is the soundtrack throughout, and with all the aforementioned elements combined and working together, you feel like you are there watching these stories unfold. And then there’s the British comedic timing, which just makes everything better.

Despite the successful opening of this movie, it does not make me think that there is a shortage or deficit in entertainment for older folks. To me, it seems rather that higher-quality movies are not made easily available. One good example of this is, again, my own mother. When she heard about The Artist and its premise, she desperately wanted to see it. She was excited because not only was the director Lithuanian (she’s 100% Lugan, too), but also because it was a silent movie; she had not seen any silent movies since she was a very small child. But the closest movie theater that was showing the movie was either downtown or two hours away by expressway.

You have to understand that for my mother (and probably a lot of other older folks), this presents a difficult challenge. Not only does she hate driving downtown, but she hates driving on the expressway more – and it somewhat scares her. She’s always afraid of getting into an accident because NO ONE in Chicago believes in the speed limit. I, on the other hand, take my chances; when 500 Days of Summer was playing at some obscure theater about an hour away, I had no problem driving there.

But she relies on what’s at the local theater closest to her in the southwest suburbs of Chicago for her movies. Unfortunately, the movies that are showing at this particular theater are not very good at all, and the selections include Rock of AgesSnow White & the Huntsman, and That’s My Boy. No, thank you! I might be a movie snob, but in my opinion, it’s no wonder The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is raking up some money at the box office. It seems that the industry is pumping up these so-called blockbusters with digital effects, explosions and whatever else they can muster up because so many of the movies lack any real substance at all. What we really need is a dose of British wit from Maggie Smith and some Builder’s Tea with biscuits.

Cinema should be an experience for us. We should be able to connect to the movie not only through our senses, but also through the characters’ thoughts, feelings, and actions. I am not British (but probably was in a past life), but I observed by the ending credits that I was very similar to many of the characters. I had mistakes that needed to be corrected. I had an unrequited love. I had played it safe through some portion of my own life.  I eventually started to wonder which of them I will end up being, and at what age will I drop everything and move to India.

Sure, there are those movies that are more considered to be “guilty pleasures” than actual movies. I really want to see Magic Mike, even if it is just to see Joe Manganiello take his shirt off. And there’s no shame in that. But when I go the theater to watch a movie other than for my hormones, I wanted to be moved. I want my senses to be overwhelmed. I want to be transported elsewhere for at least ninety minutes, because I would rather get involved in someone else’s tumultuous life than worry about my own. It’s just a bit sad that there aren’t more choices for escapism out there. Considering the options available, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel just sounds better. And just like Jiff, it’s mom-approved.

Judi Tichacek is a nerd at heart. She believes in living life to the fullest and doing basically what scares her. Within the last year, she has spent most of her savings on a trip to Hawaii, has gotten yet another tattoo, has gotten laid off, chopped off almost a foot of her hair, and is now actively considering an entirely new career because she does not want to bartend for the rest of her active adult life. Her hobbies include watching zombie movies and cooking vegetarian fare.

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