Old age is out­sourced to ‘Ex­otic Ho­tel’

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Go See - By John Bei­fuss

“palace” in Jaipur, In­dia, where the earnest and clean- cut young man­ager (Dev Pa­tel, the “Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire”) wants to “out­source old age.”

The se­niors are in­tended to rep­re­sent a cross-sec­tion of ag­ing (white) Eng­land, though view­ers may be more likely to think “Mas­ter­piece Theatre” than “di­ver­sity.”

Dench is a debt-rid­den new wid­ower whose diary jottings func­tion as the film’s voiceover nar­ra­tion; she im­me­di­ately em­braces In­dia’s “riot of color and noise.”

Smith, who spends most of the film in a wheel­chair, is a com­i­cally big­oted ter­ma­gant with a bad hip who in­sists: “If I can’t pro­nounce it, I don’t want to eat it.” The word “feisty”

★★✩✩ is ex­pected to come to mind.

Tom Wilkinson is a soft-spo­ken judge with a se­cret whose story of lost love might have in­spired a more in­ter­est­ing film than the one in which it ap­pears.

Up­tight Pene­lope Wil­ton and be­lea­guered Bill Nighy are an un­hap­pily mar­ried cou­ple; Celia Im­rie is a flirty hus­band-hunter; and the ap­pro­pri­ately named Ron­ald Pickup is a whiskery old goat of a lothario who com­ments: “I’ve still got it. I can’t find any­one who wants it.”

In the movie’s only re­ally funny ex­change, Im­rie asks Pickup: “You’re not wor­ried about the dan­ger of hav­ing sex at your age?” Replies Pickup: “If she dies, she dies.”

Of course, life in the so- called Best Ex­otic Marigold Ho­tel for the El­derly and Beau­ti­ful will prove to be trans­for­ma­tive for all in­volved. Says the ho­tel man­ager: “In In­dia we have a say­ing: Ev­ery­thing will be all right.” This bit of wis­dom is in­tro­duced early, and no doubt many movie­go­ers will be re­as­sured by the prom­ise of a happy end­ing. Oth­ers may feel they’ve been in­vited to an In­dian res­tau­rant where the buf­fet con­sists of white bread and boiled pota­toes.

Adapted by screen­writer Ol Parker from a 2004 novel by Deb­o­rah Mog­gach, “The Best Ex­otic Mo­tel” has en­abled the too of­ten ne­glected “ma­ture” au­di­ence to demon­strate that it’s an eco­nomic force to be reck­oned with: Al­ready a big hit, this “Mo­tel” has earned $88 mil­lion at the box of­fice in its first 12 weeks of limited in­ter­na­tional re­lease.

Too bad this largesse didn’t ben­e­fit a wor­thier cause. Di­rected by John Mad­den (“Shake­speare in Love”), the film is not just corny and pre­dictable but poorly shot and con­structed. The poor light­ing and dull cam­era an­gles make In­dia ap­pear to be a dreary place, even late in the film, when most of the char­ac­ters are sup­posed to have suc­cumbed to its sub­con­ti­nen­tal charms.

The vi­su­als are not just dim but dis­hon­est. To sug­gest the chaos of the streets, a ride in the three-wheeled mo­tor­cabs known as “tuk-tuks” is shot with ver­tig­i­nous an­gles and edited with a Veg-o-matic; pre­sented in this man­ner, even the progress of a tor­toise across a Gala­pa­gos hillock would ap­pear as reck­less as a prison riot.

— John Bei­fuss: 529-2394 This Is Spinal Tap (R, 82 min.) The Or­pheum Sum­mer Movie Se­ries be­gins with the clas­sic rock “mock­u­men­tray” about “the world’s loud­est band.” Led by Tar­get gui­tarist Evan Leake, an at­tempt to break the Guin­ness World Record for “largest air gui­tar en­sem­ble” pre­cedes the film at 6:30 p.m. Tor­nado Al­ley: Nar­rated by Bill Pax­ton, this IMAX film fol­lows storm-chas­ing sci­en­tists who travel in rugged, high-tech ve­hi­cles as they hunt rag­ing tor­na­does. Runs through Nov. 16. Tick­ets: $8.25 ($7.50 for se­nior cit­i­zens), $6.50 for chil­dren ages 3-12; combo/group tick­ets avail­able.

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