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Check into the 'Marigold Hotel'

Published June 08. 2012 05:01PM

One month into the summer movie season, it's safe to go back into the movie theater.

It's adult swim with "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," already an Oscars contender.

The wonderful, life-affirming, delicious comedy regales us with seven retired English men and women lured to the resort of their brochure dreams, which leaves a lot to the imagination once they arrive in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.

They interact, confront personal verities and embark on journeys of self-discovery. For the movie-goer, it's one side-splitting laugh after another, with philosophical insights in between.

"Marigold Hotel" may make you want to cash in your Roth IRA (penalties be darned) and head out on the highway (in your RV). It's "Eat Pray Love" meets "The Bucket List."

The seven's sojourn is nostalgically reminiscent of The Beatles,' Beach Boys Mike Love's and Mia Farrow's 1960s spiritual quest to India to meet Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

"Marigold Hotel" is directed with panache by John Madden ("The Debt," "Proof," "Shakespeare in Love") and a self-assured sense of how ensemble comedy works.

The screenplay by Ol Parker (writer-director, "Imagine Me & You") is based on the novel, "These Foolish Things " by Deborah Moggach.

"Marigold Hotel" boasts an incredible cast of seasoned British stage and film actors. Call them the "magnificent seven."

Judi Dench is Evelyn Greeslade. The death of her husband sends her into an economic tailspin.

Tom Wilkinson is Graham Dashwood, who wants to unravel a part of his life he left behind years ago in India.

Bill Nighy is Douglas Ainslie, whose marriage to Jean (Penelope Wilton) is on autopilot.

Maggie Smith is Murial Donnelly, who travels to India for a hip replacement where the price is right.

Ronald Pickup is Norman Cousins, a latter-day rake ever on the make.

Celia Imrie is Madge Hardcastle, who fancies herself still quite the catch.

Dev Patel plays Sonny Kapoor, the fast-talking Marigold Hotel manager with a disposition that befits his first name. Tena Desae is his girlfriend, Sunaina. Patel is as winning as he was in "Slumdog Millionaire." Theirs is "Romeo and Juliet" subplot (even to the balcony scene homage) constrained by India family dictates.

Patel, as Kapoor, has the film's best line, sure to enter the lexicon: "Everything will be all right in the end. If it is not all right, then it is not yet the end."

Check into "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" now. You may never want to leave.

"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for sexual content and language; Genre: Comedy, Drama; Run time: 2 hrs., 4 min.; Distributed by Fox Searchlight Films.

Credit Readers Anonymous: Thomas Newman is credited for the original score in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." Ben Davis's cinematography captures India's "assault on the senses."

Box Office, June 1: "Snow White and the Huntsman" opened at No. 1, with $56.2 million, sending "Men in Black III" back to No. 2, $29.3 million, $112.3 million, two weeks;

3. "The Avengers," $20.2 million, $552.7 million, five weeks; 4. "Battleship," $4.8 million, $55.1 million, three weeks; 5. "The Dictator," $4.7 million, $50.8 million, three weeks; 6. "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," $4.6 million, $25.45 million, five weeks; 7. "What to Expect When You're Expecting," $4.4 million, $30.7 million, three weeks; 8. "Dark Shadows," $3.8 million, $70.8 million, four weeks; 9. "Chernobyl Diaries," $3 million, $14.4 million, two weeks; 10. "For Greater Glory," $1.8 million

Box Office, May 25: "Men in Black III" opened at No. 1, with $54.5 million for the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend, time-traveling "The Avengers" to No 3, $36.6 million, $513.3 million, four weeks, after three weeks at No. 1.

3. "Battleship," $11 million, $44.5 million, two weeks; 4. "The Dictator," $9.2 million, $41.1 million, two weeks; 5. "Dark Shadows," $7.5 million, $62.9 million, three weeks; 6. "Chernobyl Diaries," $9.3 million, opening; 7. "What to Expect When You're Expecting," $7.1 million, $22.1 million, two weeks; 8. "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," $6.3 million, $16.6 million, four weeks; 9. "The Hunger Games," $2.3 million, $395.3 million, 10 weeks; 10. "Think Like a Man," $1.4 million, $88.3 million, six weeks

Unreel, June 8:

"Prometheus," R: Ridley Scott's mash-up of "Alien" and "Blade Runner" stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron as a team of explorers uncovering the origins of the earth in the sci-fi action horror film.

"Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," PG: Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman and their voices, Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock and David Schwimmer are back when the circus once again comes to town in the animated family adventure comedy.

Read previous movie reviews by Paul Willistein at the Times-News web site, Email Paul Willistein and on Facebook.

Four Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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