The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (12A)

Starring: Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith

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This comedy of OAP redemption could never have been as terrible as I'd anticipated: the reality turns out to be merely awful.

A variety of late-middle-aged Brits decide to see out their twilight years in an elegantly dishevelled Jaipur hotel run by the quixotic son (Dev Patel) of a highborn family. There's a lonely widow (Judi Dench), an unhappily married couple (Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton), a retired high court judge (Tom Wilkinson), and two old swingers (Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup), plus a bigoted old bag (Maggie Smith) who's only going to India for a hip replacement.

Their adventures are feeble and faintly condescending, somewhere between "oh, those magical colours" and "oh, my dear, the smell!" The actors are too accomplished to embarrass themselves, though Ol Parker's screenplay (from Deborah Moggach's novel) makes it a close-run thing.

Smith loses not only her racist leanings but her cockney accent, and after a lifetime as a skivvy turns out to be an accounting whizz. Dench hasn't a clue about the internet at the start, then a few weeks later is blogging away. Nighy and Wilkinson keep their dignity as quietly disappointed English gents, but honestly, could they not afford to do India on their own time?

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