Boomers Recharge at “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

So you think anyone upwards of 50 is “over the hill”?  Have nothing to look forward to?  We’re just square pegs stuck in a world where we don’t fit into anything other than society’s stereotypes of old farts with nothing to offer?
Think again.
There’s more than one way to tell this story.

It’s rare to find a commercial mainstream film that resonates with us baby boomers (those of us born between 1946 and 1964).  We’re the ones who are in the last decade of our career, retired or approaching retirement. We’re among the first generation that has had the luxury of actually living out our last quarter of our lives with the aid of social security, pension funds and IRAs. Unfortunately, we may be the last… but that’s another story.

You’d think Hollywood would come up with more than a scant few good movies that portray our generation.


According to the US Census Bureau, American baby boomers make up more than a quarter of the population– that’s roughly 80-million of us.  A whopping 10,000 of that 80-million are reaching retirement age (65) every day.
That’s A LOT of people.
So you’d think Hollywood would come up with more than a scant few good movies that portray our generation.  I’m encouraged by the recent release of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  Despite our DSP traits (nearsightedness, farsightedness, memory lapses, and misplacing small objects), we boomers still have something to offer: humor, wisdom, perspective, hope.
Life lessons from real life experiences.
But let’s get back to the humor– that’s where entertainment comes in.  We had to go outside Hollywood for this gem of a film.

The film’s promoters say: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows a group of British retirees who decide to “outsource” their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India. Enticed by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self. Though the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past.”

Showcasing the brilliance of British actors Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, (among others) viewers of all ages– okay, 14 and up– are in for a real treat, that is most of the actors are in their late 70s!  Critic Nicolas Mills describes the youthful manager of the Marigold Hotel, played amusingly by Dev Patel (the lead in “Slumdog Millionaire”), as an “entrepreneur who may have misled his retirees about the quality of his hotel, but he has underplayed his own decency and enthusiasm.” You’ll have to watch to see what we mean.

They do enjoy the same pleasures we young(er) folks do; good food, soft bed, good sex… what?


The hapless travelers display a patience with their circumstances that comes with living long enough to understand that compromise and optimism are essential to life.  They don’t take themselves too seriously, well, except the one insecure, self-centered wife.  They do enjoy the same pleasures we young(er) folks do; good food, soft bed, good sex… what? (don’t worry, it’s not graphic.) But love is the healer here. Predictably? Yes, but beautifully unfolded.  I hate formula films, but this my DSP friends, is not a formula you’d recognize.

Mills says, Marigold Hotel does not need to offer they-lived-happily-ever-after reassurance to succeed. It is enough that, thanks to their change in scenery, the film’s central characters have refused to resign themselves to ending their lives in quiet despair.”

The randy Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie) and the even randier Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) learn in India, age is not the barrier it was in England to the sexual adventure they are seeking.

This movie defies the critics who underestimated the success of this sleeper film.  It’s grossed $100 million and counting. As Mills says, “the popularity of Marigold Hotel tells us that unlike the critics, today’s audiences don’t find the struggles of the old and middle-aged less worthy of their attention than those of the young.” But the charm of the film isn’t confined to its depiction of the elderly trying to make the most of the rest of their lives.  He sums it up: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel does not need to offer they-lived-happily-ever-after reassurance to succeed. It is enough that, thanks to their change in scenery, the film’s central characters have refused to resign themselves to ending their lives in quiet despair.”

I watched the film with my 22-year old daughter, who said she loved it.
Really?
I was surprised she could appreciate the trials and tribulations of folks old enough to be her grandparents.  Perhaps that’s the gift: she had the good fortune of a close relationship with her grandparents growing up.  That makes the characters relatable– even to “20-somethings”.  It’s a perfect fit for all Domestic Square Pegs and those who love them.

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One Response to Boomers Recharge at “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

  1. Randy T says:

    Great take on this movie– I took my parents. Dad cried, mom laughed, I blushed.

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