March 9, 2013

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)

Dev Patel, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, et al 
(aka that kid from Slumdog Millionaire and pretty much every famous old British actor except Helen Miren)

Do you ever find yourself drawn to British movies because afterward, you talk to yourself in a British accent? No? Well, even so, I think everyone can agree that the Brits make mostly entertaining stuff (notable exceptions include The NannyMonty Python, and anything Mr. Bean-related). I mean, how many shows of theirs have we copied? The Office, X Factor, America's Got Talent, Trading Spaces, What Not to Wear, Undercover Boss, etc. (Notice I didn't say we only copy quality programming.) The point is, we as Americans just love the British. It's as if we never tried to break away from them and start our own country 150+ years ago.

But in all seriousness, the Brits really know how to appreciate their actors. Here in America, we transition actors from starring leads in romantic comedies to the parents of new romantic leads at the first sign of a wrinkle or a gray hair. Or, even if we do decide not to relegate our older actors to tiny roles as grandparents in crappy kids movies, it ends up being a movie filled with jokes about being old (see: Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give, which no one will be able to convince me was NOT a super lame movie). Call the Brits "anti-ageists."

So back to the movie - it's good. Quite good, actually. I don't usually let big award nominations affect my opinion about movies, but when it got nominated for several Golden Globes, it reminded me that this was, in fact, a good movie and one worth reviewing. I had seen it previously and failed to put into words why I liked it. It has a certain... je ne sais quois... charm? Yes, that's it - the movie is charming.

I realize that this doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement of the movie, but honestly, when was the last time you watched a movie that was genuinely charming? I'm pretty sure this movie was billed as charming, except when I watched it on HBO last week I wanted to poke my own eyes out just to make the misery end.

My main qualm? It has nothing to do with the movie itself - it's the Golden Globe Best Actress nomination for Maggie Smith. There's nothing wrong with her performance, per se, it just doesn't seem to be that difficult to act like a cranky, racist old lady. Is her performance so groundbreaking that consider it to be one of the best of the year? Isn't this character awfully similar to the Dowager Countess she plays on Downton Abbey? Then again, Clint Eastwood continues to get critical acclaim for the exact same thing. Maybe this is just a form of gender equality.

Final word: Makes me like old people just a little bit more.

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