Friday, June 29, 2012

TED: For Seth MacFarlane Fans Only

TED (Dir. Seth MacFarlane, 2012)

“I don’t sound that much like Peter Griffin!” protests the profane protagonist of Seth MacFarlane’s first full-length feature film, but obviously that’s a hollow claim.

MacFarlane, of course, voices Ted, the teddy bear that magically comes alive to a little boy that grows up to be Bostonian man-child played by Mark Wahlberg, and, yes, he sounds exactly like his famous Family Guy character.

That does a lot to call out what this movie essentially is: a collection of gags that were too R-rated for basic cable, decorating a flimsy plot.

It’s a plot everyone should recognize from many movies and sitcoms - a man-child’s girlfriend, in this case played by Mila Kunis, begs her beau to grow up, but he’s too attached to a lifestyle of juvenile high jinks, in this case embodied in a stuffed plush talking toy.

Come to think of it, it was a scenario even used in last year’s THE MUPPETS, with Jason Segel asking himself the musical question is he a “Man or a Muppet,” after being left by Amy Adams.

But at least in that film it was just a silly subplot, and not the full narrative as it is here. An attempt to create conflict between Wahlberg and Kunis by having Joel McHale (Community, Talk Soup) as Kunis’ slimy corporate boss constantly come on to her, doesn’t raise any stakes because of how her character is set up we never believe she would go for him over Wahlberg.

But back to the talking Teddy Bear part, I mean it’s his movie, right? Ted is an aimless comedy archetype – a hard drinking, drugging, foul-mouthed party animal just like last year’s PAUL (which was stupid, sure, but much funnier than this).

With the sheer volume of jokes, one-liners, and pop culture pot-shots, there can’t help but be some humorous moments, but TED gets tiresome really quickly (two 9/11 jokes, really?). The CGI used to animate the bear is flawless, but to what avail with this lazy material?

That is, I suppose, unless you’re a die-hard Family Guy fan, or a big American Dad fan, or even just a casual The Cleveland Show fan (I'm none of those things), and you’re way into folks making fun of crappy movies, celebrities, and music mostly from the ‘80s.

For some reason there’s a lot of focus on the infamous 1980 sci-fi flop FLASH GORDON (it’s the movie Ted and Wahlberg watch the most while getting high, you see), including a lengthy cameo by Flash Gordon himself, Sam Jones in a wildly typical party sequence.

At the screening I went to, plenty of people laughed, but how many folks in the audience really knew that 32-year old film? Sure, it’s got a classically kitschy theme song by Queen and it may qualify for the so bad it’s good factor (like Wahlberg says at one point), but is it really worthy of this kind of satiric attention?

MacFarlane takes what feels and looks like a warmed-over Farrelly brothers project, and interjects it with his distinctive smarmy tone. However there is little a bit of a heart within purely because of Kunis’ invested performance. But next time she does a movie like this, she really ought not to waste so much energy.

Oh yeah, there’s also the third act action climax involving a creepy Giovanni Ribisi kidnapping Ted for his rotund son (Aedin Mincks), but, hey, it’s an ending consistent with the uninspired rest of the film.

The not terrible but tedious TED is really a film for MacFarlane fans only, but even they might want to wait to get the inevitable unrated DVD or Blu ray, because I bet it and all the bloopers, gag reels, and outtakes will be much funnier on the small screen.

And as cheap as the humor is in TED, people should really get their money’s worth.

More later...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


SOUND OF NOISE (Dirs. Ola Simonsson & Johannes Stjärne Nilsson, 2012)

This film about a group of avant-garde guerilla drummers who take the Swedish city of Malmö by storm with a series of illegal public performances really took me by surprise.

I wasn’t expecting such a funny stylish ride, but SOUND OF NOISE delightfully delivers with its satisfyingly inventive spirit.

It’s partly told through the police procedural point of view of Bengt Nilsson, a tone deaf cop who hates music, and partly through the four movements the chaotic percussionists are playing in such places as a hospital operating room, a bank (“This is a gig! Everybody keep calm!”), outside an opera house, and finally hanging from high tension power cables.

The rogue gang, lead by Magnus Börjeson (who composed the music for the film) and Sanna Persson, usually leaves a metronome behind at the scene of the crime, er, gig, so that helps Nilsson to follow their trail.

There’s a surreal element here, where Nilsson can’t hear anything the drummers have played on - he tries to make a metal bedroom clang against the wall in the hospital but he hears nothing. It’s sort of the reverse of what Jean Dujardin went though in the dream scene in THE ARTIST.

Börjeson drops away as a major character pretty early on, and the movie mostly concentrates on Nilsson and Persson.

Persson has a priceless back story in which she was expelled from the music academy for flooding their concert hall during one of her experimental recitals.

When Persson says “Listen to this city contaminated by shitty music…it’s time to strike back” she sounds like she really means it, and I don’t speak Swedish so I think that’s impressive.

Nilsson’s anti-music/anti-any kind of noise stance comes from being from a family of musicians. As Nilsson’s famous composer brother, Sven Ahlström, at first appears like a condescending jerk that the movie will make fun of, but thankfully screenwriters Jim Birmant, Ola Simonsson, and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson had better ideas.

Once one gets the hang of it the narrative may seem a bit transparent (and there may be too many convenient coincidences), but there’s a lot of pure amusement here.

As recent comic thrillers go, I sure liked the sound of this noise.

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A Bill Murray Coloring Book? Yep, That's Right

Get this - a new Vancouver, Canada-based publisher, which is also a record label, named Belly Kids is releasing a Bill Murray coloring book in August called “Thrill Murray.”

From their press release: “Be it in ‘Groundhog Day,’ ‘Ghostbusters,’ ‘Rushmore’ or ‘Lost in Translation’ Bill Murray has become a diamond of the modern screen, the heartbeat of any worthwhile DVD collection.”

Can't argue with that. So, why not honor the icon with a colouring-in book (as the Canadians call it)?

The images they've released, selected from the over 20 different artists who contributed, are funny and well detailed, even if Murray looks skinny in films he was chubby in, and fat in the films he was fit in (i.e. “Lost in Translation”).

“Thrill Murray,” which is credited to author Mike Coley, will be available on August 13th. You can pre-order it here. Also available will be prints of a few of the images, and a tote bag.

So, stock up on crayons so you can fill in all the Bill you can.

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Friday, June 22, 2012


ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER (Dir. Timur Bekmambetov, 2012)

Later this year, the 16th President of the United States will get the epic biopic treatment by Steven Spielberg in his adaptation of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s bestseller “Team of Rivals,” titled simply LINCOLN.

But if you can’t wait until then to see Honest Abe on the big screen (and you want a longer more convoluted title), here’s a movie, also based on a bestseller (by Seth Grahame-Smith), that attempts to spice up the historical record by adding supernatural elements to it.

Unfortunately it’s not a successful experiment, mainly because of its lack of charm and humor, and its dull formulaic storyline. With its premise, one might expect some outrageousness – like the tongue-in-cheekiness of a Bruce Campbell project, but there’s no BUBBA TO TEP-type fun to be had here.

Benjamin Walker, who resembles a young Liam Neeson (actually played a young Liam Neeson in KINSEY), plays Lincoln, who when not studying law and working in a general store, is out killing vampires with a axe/gun contraption.

It takes a stylized montage for Walker to be trained for action by his mentor Dominic Cooper, who appears to be channeling Tim Curry, then the film rolls from one set-piece to another – none of which provide any excitement. The pacing is so off that not one of the supposed to be sudden shots revealing in-your-face fangs is the least bit scary.

The special effects factor is underwhelming as well, with the 3D conversion muddying up instead of enhancing the imagery. The blustery Civil War battles between the mortal humans of the North, and the slave-owning vampires of the South are too messy to allow any tension, likewise the literal train wreck climax.

Then there’s the awful dialogue. Whether spoken by Walker, Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln, or Rufus Sewell as the film’s lead vampire villain, the overwrought over-simplistic lines are laughably bad throughout the entire overlong movie.

It feels weird to say this about a film entitled ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, but it takes itself way too seriously. I mean I guess it’s cool that Bekmambetov and crew want to pay so much respect to Lincoln’s legacy, but, c’mon, have a little fun with the concept, why dontcha?

As it stands, this film joins this year’s Edgar Allan Poe thriller dud THE RAVEN, and last year’s Shakespeare-was-a-fraud fiasco ANONYMOUS as incredibly misguided movies that screw with history and end up screwing their audiences too.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

THINGS I DON'T UNDERSTAND: The Film Babble Blog Review

This indie film, made for the low budget of $175,000, is now making the film festival rounds. Later this week it will be shown at The Philadelphia Independent Film Festival, early July at the at the Northwest Ohio Independent Film Festival, and July 24th-29th it’ll be in competition for several awards as one of only 9 selected feature films at the Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival in Palatine, Illinois.

(Dir. David Spaltro, 2012)

In the New York-based David Spaltro’s second full-length feature, Molly Ryman stars as a 20-something aged graduate student who is obsessed with the subject of her thesis about what happens after we die. So much so that she attempted suicide as an “experiment,” she tells us (and we see) in her dryly spoken opening voice-over.

Ryman lives with 2 arty room-mates (Hugo Dillon and Melissa Hampton) in a Brooklyn loft above a bar, where she has a crush on the bartender (Aaron Mathias).

Her therapist (Lisa Eichhorn) tells our sardonic protagonist that her father wants her to change her lifestyle habits, specifically that she “needs to stop drinking and whoring herself every night.”

“But I’m so good at it.” Ryman replies with a smirk.

Now, this is coming from somebody who works in bookstore retail because she considers it a “pressure-less expectation-free zone.”

Although she’s interviewed many “near-deathers,” as she calls them, Ryman doesn’t quite make a real connection until she meets Grace Folsom as a woman dying of cancer in Catholic hospice. A connection is something Violet needs, as she and her room-mates are having trouble raising money to pay their rent, the brooding bartender is ignoring her passes, and she’s burned out by too many one-night-stands.

Spaltro’s well-written film has a naturalistic pace. It doesn’t feel like we are caught up in plot mechanics, no, we are hanging, smoking cigarettes, and drinking beers, with Ryman and her friends in their beloved dank bar and drab yet utterly hip dwelling, which are dark, yet sharply shot by cinematographer Gus Sacks.

Ryman and Folsom’s exchanges are the heart of the film, and they are as witty as they are moving. 

At first snark meets snark, but these two souls – more confused than lost – have plenty of both witty and moving insights to share with each other and us. Folsom steals the film from Ryman in one scene in which she sobs saying that she doesn’t want to go.

There is not a trace of emotional manipulation in that moment, a testament to Folsom’s performance and Spaltro’s deft direction.

This is not to sell Ryman short - hers is an honest and affecting depiction of a jaded woman on the edge of hardcore depression, but aware, even if hesitant, of the possibility of enlightenment. As she says in her intro: “Okay, maybe there’s a light.”

There may be some heavy handiness, a few superfluous subplots (as likable and invested as Dillon and Hampton are - they appear to be simply muted comic relief), and some of its one-liners may fall flat, but THINGS I DON'T UNDERSTAND gets personal with its characters and themes in a refreshing and extremely engaging way.

People say when you are young you are the most questioning, but maybe becoming an adult is realizing that the questioning never ends. We’re always going to have to deal with death, and that’s always going to be an unanswerable question.

At her most exasperated, Ryman warns, “Say ‘things happen for a reason,’ and I scream.” Folsom quips: “I’m not that clichéd.”

Thankfully, Spaltro’s thoughtful film isn’t either.

More later...

Friday, June 15, 2012

ROCK OF AGES Left Me Hair Metal-ed Out

Opening today at a multiplex near you:

ROCK OF AGES (Dir. Adam Shankman, 2012)

Back when I was a teenager in the ‘80s, I hated the music this movie celebrates.

When I think of great ‘80s rock, I think of R.E.M., The Replacements, The Pixies, Hüsker Dü, Psychedelic Furs, The Cure, The Smiths, et al.

The bands whose music (sung by the cast) makes up the soundtrack of this movie - Foreigner, Bon Jovi, Journey, Poison, Guns N' Roses, Def Leopard - were the commercial sell-out arena rock enemies to me.

Over time, I started to appreciate some of the output of the latter contingent, but in an ironic way. I wouldn’t listen to this music on my own, but it sure sounded good when it blasted out of Tony Soprano’s stereo.

For a bit of the screen time of ROCK OF AGES, which is based on the 2006 Broadway musical, the gimmick of ‘80s power-ballad-anthems being sung by stars like Tom Cruise (as a very Axl Rose-ish rock star), Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Russell Brand, is comically enjoyable.

But before it even got to the half-hour mark, I was more than a little hair metal-ed out.

I can’t complain that the film is cheesy, garish, and utterly ridiculous because it’s purposely packaged to be that way. The cliché-ridden plot is by design too - small town girl (Julianne Hough) comes to LA to become a singer, and meets a city boy (Diego Boneta) - yes, just like the Journey lyrics - and they pine for fame while working at a popular club, the Bourbon Room, which is in danger of being shut down because of unpaid taxes.

Of the cast, only Cruise, who swaggers through the movie, stands out (everybody, especially Baldwin is just peddling their same old shtick), but he’s not given much of a character. In a movie like this, I know that doesn’t matter; it only matters that Cruise can sing.

But the concept’s charm is diluted by the numbing overabundance of ‘80s music video tropes, and whatever fun I was supposed to be having was gets buried under noisy annoying mash-ups like when Zeta-Jones’ Tipper Gore-esque character (whose back story is instantly guessable) and her Christian cronies sing Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” while Brand and the Bourbon Room crowd respond with Starship’s “We Built This City.”

Director Shankman, did a much better job with handling the music and choreography in HAIRSPRAY a few years back. But much like that film, ROCK OF AGES looks like a over-lit television show - it’s not cinematic looking at all. Shankman has had his hand in directing a few episodes of Glee (go figure - he did the “Rocky Horror” one), so that’s no surprise.

All of this would be easier to take if it didn’t run for over 2 hours (okay, only 3 minutes over, but still).

Maybe if they cut most of the crappy dialogue out and kept it to the length of a mix CD (80 min.), then folks not partial to this music, like me, wouldn’t get so unbearably overpowered by the excess of icky ‘80s power-ballad-anthems on glitzy display.

Actually, even then, this would be pretty hard going.

More later...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pascal Santschi's very indie film THE ARRIVISTE is now available on DVD

Now out on DVD:

THE ARRIVISTE (Dir. Pascal Santschi, 2012)

Now *this* is an independent movie!

First time feature film-maker Pascal Santschi wrote, edited, scored, produced, and shot THE ARRIVISTE guerilla-style on the streets of Brooklyn on 35 mm with an extremely low budget – less than $10,000. You can’t get anymore indie than that.

The film centers on Eamon Speer as a young man on parole, whose hardened criminal brother (P.J. Cross) is missing, and from what we gather in the first few minutes - he has been chopped up into pieces for blackmailing the wrong people.

This leaves Speer as the sole beneficiary on a life insurance policy that he’s told by a slimey agent (Tom Morewick) could get him a “nice chunk of change.” Of course, there’s the issue that all of Speer’s brother’s body has to be found for the money to come through.

Despite Morewick’s pressure, Speer hesitates to sign the papers because he sense something isn’t right, especially because there’s an obnoxious police detective (Gary Devirgilio) snooping around. There’s also a novelist (Mark Fernandez) hoping to capitalize on the situation in a sensationalistic true crime book.

As Morewick tells Speer, “It’s all a bit complicated and confusing, so I won’t go too deep into it.”

Santschi's twisty dark narrative has nary a likable character in sight, yet is an involving film with some sharp writing.

The stiff acting and bad lighting (some night shots were so dark and grainy that sometimes it’s hard to see what’s going on) can be forgiven obviously because of the budget. Many directors’ debuts are saddled with the same issues, but Santschi’s raw talent definitely shines through the often muddy presentation.

While it’s impressive that Santschi wrote and performed the jazzy background music, I wish it wasn’t so bippy and intrusive in some scenes, and it often sounded a little too comic and silly for this material’s tone.

Not to say there isn’t humor, some of it in the form of a loud homeless germophobe (Raymond Turturro) who Speer keeps encountering on the street, and some amusing Tarentino-esue scuffles and gunplay.

THE ARRIVISTE shows a lot of promise for the directorial debut of the ambitious Santschi, and it has something that many much more expensive films can’t even dream of having - true grit.

More later...

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Tragedy + Time = BERNIE

BERNIE (Dir. Richard Linklater, 2012)

Is it really true that comedy is tragedy plus time? Or is that just something Alan Alda’s loathsome character pretentiously pontificated in Woody Allen’s CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS?

Well, Richard Linklater’s latest, BERNIE, takes the true story of a Texas mortician who kills a wealthy widow, and makes a matter-of-fact comic docudrama out of it that really works.

It’s not a case of “too soon” as it happened over 15 years ago, but even back then the facts surrounding the murder were more than just a little amusing.

Jack Black, in maybe his finest performance, reunites with his SCHOOL OF ROCK director Linklater to portray the title character, Bernie Tiede, who was the most beloved man in Carthage, Texas back in the mid ‘90s. And by a lot of accounts, he still is much loved in that tiny town, despite the fact that he, you know, shot an 81-year old woman 4 times in the back.

Bernie’s tale is told in large part by a number of actual Carthage town folk, in interview segments that frame the dramatized version of events. We are told, time and time again, what a good Christian, and respected figure of the community Bernie was. Folks often speculated about his sexuality because of his effeminate nature (which Black nails), and what exactly was his relationship with his later victim, Marjorie Nugent (sharply depicted by Shirley MacLaine), who he doted on.

Bernie’s reputation for being a standout gospel singer in the church choir is brought to life by Black’s sincere vocalizing, as is Tiede’s staging of local productions of Broadway musicals.

As the mean old Marjorie (one of the interviewees says: “there were people in town, honey, that would’ve shot her for five dollars”) MacLaine is also well suited. She’s played many surly acerbic characters like this, but here it’s a better fit than in the rom coms and melodramas she has been appearing in as of late.

The murder itself is shown in the film as a momentary lapse for an otherwise all-around decent man. But his handling of the situation by putting her in a freezer, and spending tons of her money in the months following, is where one can’t help but nervously giggle.

Especially when it takes nine months for Bernie to be found out, because, well nobody, except her accountant, missed Marjorie.

The reason for the killing, one that he blurts out while sobbing, is that Marjorie was cruelly monopolizing Bernie’s time. She orders him around, even getting him a pager, and insults his manhood. Still, he could’ve just walked away – he wasn’t obligated to take care of this old woman – but as one of the town folk says, he didn’t want to forsake his meal ticket.

A slick as always Matthew McConaughey (like Linklater a real Texan) plays Danny “Buck” Davidson, the self-promoting lawyer trying to convict Bernie. His bemusement at how the Carthage people stand behind Bernie is amply humorous, as is gung ho determination to win (he has to move the trial 50 miles away to St. Augustine in order to avoid acquittal).

With this kind of material, and with Black on board, they could’ve really gone over the top, but Linklater and crew never lose their grounding. The film sets a tone and stays with it, largely because of Black’s dialing back on his famous funny man persona.

The only complaints I have are iPhones weren’t around in the ‘90s, and that when they show pictures of the real people at the end (vacation photos of Tiede and Nugent together mostly), they don’t show us a picture of Danny “Buck” - presumably because he looks nothing like McConaughey.

Apart from that, BERNIE makes a solid case for the tragedy + time equation.

And stay through the end credits to see a brief glimpse of Black with the real Bernie, and film of James Baker performing his song “Bernie, What Have You Done?”

More later...

Friday, June 01, 2012

DARLING COMPANION (Dir. Lawrence Kasdan, 2012)

Lawrence Kasdan’s, newest film - his first since 2003’s DREAMCATCHER is his slightest yet.

All it’s about is a group of people looking for a missing dog. Okay, a few themes are broached - aging, love, the needs of family - but those are just brought up and discarded as these folks go through a few days worried about where their shaggy mutt (named Freeway) ran off to in the Colorado Rockies.

It’s mainly Diane Keaton that’s worried, her self-asorbed surgeon husband Kevin Kline acts like he’s just trying to appease her, especially since he’s the one who is responsible for the dog’s disappearance - the dog runs off chasing a dear while Kline was on his cell phone on a walk in the woods. This is something we have to endure Keaton over-emotionally whining about for a lot of the film’s running time.

Keaton and Kline had just hosted the wedding of their youngest daughter (Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss who pretty much phones her part in) at their vacation house, when this traumatic world-stopping event happened. Some family stay behind to help them with the search: Dianne Wiest as Keaton’s sister, with her son (Mark Duplass), and as her new boyfriend (a way too goofy Richard Jenkins).

Then there’s Gypsy caretaker (Ayelet Zurer) who claims she has the gift of psychic powers. Though the gang is initially skeptical of Zurer’s, uh, visions, they still take it to heart. Just when I thought my eyes couldn’t roll any more, Keaton has a nightmare which is done in animation - a completely misguided move as it tonally doesn’t fit at it all, and is, well, just weird.

Another silly addition is Sam Shepherd as a crusty sheriff. I actually can’t remember if he helps the search or if he’s as useless as the psychic - both as a character and as a plot device.

It’s sad to see Kasdan, the man who wrote and directed many popular (and good) titles including BODY HEAT, THE BIG CHILL, GRAND CANYON, and my personal favorite THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST, (not to mention his screenplays for THE EMPIRE STRIKES AGAIN and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK) have so little to say.

I knew before I read it in the credits that this was based on a true story, because it was so boring that it just had to based on something from the everyday existence of Kasdan and his wife Meg (who co-wrote).

Keaton comes off flightier than usual; she puts a lot of effort into her performance, but try as she might she can’t elevate the weak material that she’s given.

Kline should’ve lived up to his nickname “Kevin Decline” and passed on this (he really doesn’t put as much effort as Keaton into his character), but since he’s Kasdan’s go-to guy (he’s starred in 6 of Kasdan’s movies now) he was probably just doing it as a favor.

In Kasdan’s 1991 drama GRAND CANYON (also starring Kline) - not a great film, but it sure looks like a masterpiece compared to this - Steve Martin plays a slick movie producer who tells Kline that his problem is that he hasn’t “seen enough movies - all of life's riddles are answered in the movies.”

Well not one riddle is answered in the miserable DARLING COMPANION.

More later...



Last weekend, this geriatric crowd-pleaser really packed ‘em in at the Rialto Theater in Raleigh. The hype had been building for months - promos run in conjunction with Downton Abbey on PBS certainly helped – so folks (not all seniors, but mostly) came in great numbers to see the film.

From the laughter and applause I heard (I work part-time at the Rialto), they were not disappointed.

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (tagline: “for the elderly and the beautiful”) concerns a group of British retirees (Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, and Tom Wilkinson) who travel to India to take up residence at a hotel run by Dev Patel (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE).

They were expecting a luxury retirement development, but what they find is a crumbling, dusty, run-down dwelling in the center of Jaipur, India. But Patel’s sunny enthusiasm - mainly because these are his first guests – attempts to smooth things over: “In India we have a saying ‘everything will be alright in the end – so if it is not alright, it’s not yet the end.’”

Each of the pensioners has obvious issues with their living arrangements, but to most of them it’s preferable to their life back in the Western world.

You see, Dench is a highly in debt widower, the acerbic (and racist though that's something she all too easily gets over) Smith (not expanding much on her Downton Abbey character) is in need of hip replacement surgery that is less expensive in India, Wilkinson is a retired judge who had been raised in Jaipur so he returns to make peace with his past, Pickup is, well, an aging pick-up artist hoping to score better than back home, Imrie is also looking for love, and Nighy and Wilton (also a Downton Abbey cast member) are a miserable married couple who lost their savings investing in their daughter’s internet company.

Patel’s problems are that his mother (Lillete Dubey) wants to shut down the hotel, and she doesn’t approve of his girlfriend (Tena Desae), so there’s an excuse to break out the rom com third act standard: the mad dash to get one’s love back.

Well shot with a lot of colorful cinematography, this film is breezy and spirited, but it’s way too tidy, and overly cutesy. It’s not cloying however, and the cast is so appealing that they often transcend that their characters aren’t very fleshed-out and the simple-mindedness of Ol Parker’s screenplay (based on the book “These Foolish Things” by Deborah Moggach), and there’s a wealth of good one-liners.

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL should entertain undemanding movie-goers and mildly amuse most others. It’s a fluffy yet fine time. Expect it to play all summer long at an indie art house theater near you.

More later...