A Passage to India it's not. And it's not meant to be. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is two hours of fluff, popcorn-munching, grinning, totally predictable fluff. It's meant to be. A director with the chops of John Madden doesn't assemble a cast of some of the most accomplished actors on the planet - Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson - without being clear about the mission. Let's go to India, hang out together, and have some fun.
Story line? Simple. For various reasons, but mostly out of some form of desperation, a group of British retirees are tempted by the adverts to move to India to live inexpensively and...well...exotically. The Hotel is a disaster. But so what? As the young Indian co-owner of the hotel predicts, "Everything will be all right in the end. If everything is not all right, it is not yet the end." And in the end, everyone gets what they want, or at least what they need.
Predictable? You bet. But as easy-breezy as the cinema gets these days. And if the wrenching poverty of a major Indian city is glossed over, if a visit to the home of an Untouchable doesn't evoke the smell of raw sewage, deal with it.
Honest fluff. Can't beat it.