With summer in full swing, and a new big budget blockbuster opening every week, it's nice to be able to take a step back every onceĀ in a while and enjoy a film on a smaller scale.

That's the case with "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" a delightful little British film with a fantastic cast and a story that goes in some unexpected places. I found it be quite entertaining.

"Hotel" is an ensemble piece with seven British retirees traveling to India to stay in a luxurious hotel. The group includes a recently widowed house wife of 40 years (Judi Dench), a judge with a secret reason for coming to India (Tom Wilkinson), a longtime married couple in a rut (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton) and a longtime nanny in India for hip surgery (Maggie Smith).

They arrive at the hotel to discover conditions that are less than ideal, with the hotel owner a young man (Dev Patel) dealing with relationship issues of his own.

"Hotel" begins as a rather light and fluffy fish out of water tale, but slowly evolves into something deeper. I kept thinking as the story unfolded that this would make a great book and sure enough "Hotel" is adapted from a novel by Deborah Moggach. This is a film that isn't about the wacky adventures of an elderly group at a broken down hotel, this is the story of seven people looking to write a final positive chapter of their lives.

The talented cast also adds depth to the story, especially Dench and Wilkinson who get the strongest story arcs. Smith is also very good, with her story going in an pleasantly unexpected direction.

I think "Hotel" could have trimmed the ensemble down maybe a character or two, and perhaps given Patel's storyline a little more of a punch, but for the most part it was easy to forgive "Hotel" for its shortcomings. This is a warm and breezy two hours of escapism that is worth seeking out.

Grade: B


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