I am not generally a fan of elderly comedy. I didn’t like The Golden Girls, for instance. I like Betty White O.K., and I liked George Burns, but they are genuinely funny – their humor doesn’t depend exclusively on jokes about men not able to get it up, people falling down, wrinkles, incontinence, and dying.
Sort of the same with ethnic comics, or fat comics. If they can’t transcend that, after a while it’s just not interesting any more. It’s sort of why Jeff Foxworthy was only funny the first couple of times you saw him, and then it was over, why Paul Hogan’s fame was limited to one character.
My wife, on the other hand, loves films about old people and their relationships. It’s one of the many ways in which we are different. Opposites attract.
So, she’s been bugging me for about a week to watch a film with her, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, about a bunch of English senior citizens who retire to a hotel in India, which is kind of a dump, but a lovable dump.
Surprise, surprise. I loved it, she fell asleep. I don’t know if I would actually love India. The noise, the crowds, the dirt, the smells, the poverty. But in a film it’s a riot of color and smiling children and multiple, comic, human, very human, inter-reactions.
I don’t want to recount the plot, or give spoilers, but suffice it to say that every single one of the main characters will surprise you in some way – well, not so much Dev Patel, you know in the end he will wed the lovely girl just like in Slum Dog Millionaire because he is so innocent and earnest, but all of the old folks.
In the end, their stories all serve to prove the theme of the movie, an Indian saying that gets repeated several times: “Everything will be all right in the end, and if things are not all right, then it isn’t yet the end.”