Story

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is about a group of ageing people unexpectedly thrust together in the search for a different life. Evelyn (Judi Dench), Douglas (Bill Nighy), Jean (Penelope Wilton), Muriel (Maggie Smith), Graham (Tom Wilkinson), Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Madge (Celia Imrie) all have different reasons for responding to an unusual advertisement that offers a colourful and exotic retirement option in India.

When they arrive in India, they find that the Marigold Hotel, run by the irrepressible Sonny (Dev Patel), is a little less luxurious than the advertising suggested. Nevertheless, life there begins to charm at least some of them. Their lives change in unexpected ways.

Themes

Death of a main character; relationship breakdown and infidelity; racism

Violence

There is no physical violence in this movie, but it does show several verbal arguments among characters.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the verbal arguments mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight years.

For example, one of the more endearing main characters dies of a heart attack. He is found collapsed in a chair by another character who is visibly upset. The character’s body is later cremated in a traditional Indian ceremony. The body is seen in the fire, but only as a shape covered in ashes. Later his friend scatters his ashes in the sea. 

From 8-13

Children in this age group might also be disturbed by the idea of a body being burned on an open fire. 

Over 13

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie. 

Sexual references

This movie has some sexual references. For example:

  • One of the men is very eager to have a relationship and goes speed-dating. He lies about his age to the women he dates.
  • One of the main characters talks openly about being homosexual. He reflects on a love affair he had when he was younger. He still loves the man he had the affair with.
  • People talk about taps and nozzles being like a penis.
  • One of the characters goes to the doctor for Viagra (or something similar). There’s some indirect discussion of him using the tablets with his new partner and what happens when he does.
  • Two of the characters are seen reading the Kama Sutra. One character briefly practises one of the moves while reading it. He is fully clothed when doing this.
  • One of the married couples in the movie is having marriage problems. Both husband and wife develop feelings for other people.
  • Characters mention the fact that Sonny and his girlfriend have sex. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie shows some use of substances. For example:

  • All of the main characters drink alcohol at most meals and in many scenes. None of the characters drinks too much, and all the characters are legally old enough to drink.
  • There’s a subtle reference to smoking marijuana. 

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie shows some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • One of the characters has a shower, but we see only his upper body and legs.
  • Sonny’s girlfriend sneaks into the hotel to surprise him. She takes off her clothes and gets into bed, but it’s the wrong bed. She leaps from the bed and wraps a sheet around herself. 

Product placement

There is some product placement in this movie. For example, the movie mentions or shows Dell computers, HP sauce, Hobnobs, Honda, GE, Yamaha, Sony and Fortis Healthcare. 

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language in this movie. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a visually beautiful movie about retirees who travel to India in the hope of finding a better life. Although there is little in the movie to disturb children, the themes and story lack interest for children. The movie is more likely to appeal to adults who are fans of the much-loved British cast.

The main messages from this movie are about embracing life and experience.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include being honest and true to yourself, and not judging others.

You could also talk about the racism and fear of difference that some of the characters have. For example, you could discuss how racist attitudes affect the characters and the people they come into contact with. Why does one of the characters change her views?