Bring on the Popcorn, and Make it a LOL Kids Movie Night! The Emoji Movie includes the original Hotel Transylvania Short “Puppy!”

Available on Digital October 10 and On 4K Ultra HD™ Combo Pack, Blu-ray + Digital, & DVD on October 24

CULVER CITY, Calif. (September 12, 2017) – Be the movie night hero and bring home the film that kids give two thumbs up to for the ultimate kid’s movie night! It’s time to express yourself when Sony Pictures Animation’s THE EMOJI MOVIE arrives for the first time on Digital on October 10 and on 4K Ultra HD+ Blu-ray + Digital, Blu-ray + Digital and DVD October 24 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The animated comedy unlocks the never-before-seen secret world inside your smartphone. Hidden within the messaging app is Textopolis, a bustling city where all your favorite emojis live, hoping to be selected by the phone’s user. In this world, each emoji has only one facial expression – except for Gene (T.J. Miller), an exuberant emoji who was born without a filter and is bursting with multiple expressions. Determined to become “normal” like the other emojis, Gene enlists the help of his handy best friend Hi-5 (James Corden) and the notorious code breaker emoji Jailbreak (Anna Faris). Together, they embark on an epic “app-venture” through the apps on the phone, each its own wild and fun world, to find the code that will fix Gene. But when a greater danger threatens the phone, the fate of all emojis depends on these three unlikely friends who must save their world before it’s deleted forever.

THE EMOJI MOVIE features an all-star voice cast including T.J. Miller (How To Train Your Dragon) as Gene Meh, James Corden (“Late Late Show with James Corden”) as Hi-5, Anna Faris (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) as Jailbreak, Maya Rudolph (Big Hero 6) as Smiler, Steven Wright (Louie) as Mel Meh, Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie, Legally Blonde) as Mary Meh, Jake T. Austin (“Wizards of Waverly Place”) as phone owner Alex, Grammy® Award Winner Christina Aguilera as Akiko Glitter, Emmy® Award Nominee Sofia Vergara (The Smurfs) as Flamenca, Rachael Ray (“Rachael Ray”) as Spam, Emmy® Award Winner Sean Hayes (“Will & Grace”) as “Devil” Steven, and Emmy® Award Nominee Sir Patrick Stewart (X-Men, Star Trek: The Next Generation) as Poop.

THE EMOJI MOVIE is filled with interactive bonus materials on the Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, DVD and digital releases that are fun for the entire family to enjoy including the “Good Vibrations” Dance Along and Lyric Video, where you can join along in the dance party. Learn about the amazing dance moves from the film’s celebrity choreographer in “Choreographing Emoji with Matt Steffanina.” Get creative with step-by-step tutorials on how to draw your favorite Emoji’s with two “how to” videos. Go behind-the-scenes of a real-life coding school with the “Girls Who Code” featurette, and get to know everything about the all-star cast in “Express Yourself: Meet the Cast.” Fans will also get to unveil more of the story behind their beloved character in “Jailbreak Decoded: The Untold Story.” Additional featurettes include “Creating the World Inside Your Phone,” “Bringing Emoji’s to Life,” and the very exciting “Puppy! An Original Hotel Transylvania Short.”

In addition to extra content above, exclusive to Blu-ray, fans of all ages will be able to give it their best shot at the “Gimme a Hand! Guess the Emoji Game,” where Hi-5 and Smiler give you clues to help you guess the mystery Emojis. You will also have the chance to get creative with your Halloween Trick-Or-Treat candy with “Sweet App-etite: Make Your Own Candy Crush Inspired Saga Cake.”

THE EMOJI MOVIE is directed by Tony Leondis, with screenplay by Tony Leondis & Eric Siegel and Mike White and story by Tony Leondis & Eric Siegel. The film is produced by Sony Pictures Animation, with Michelle Raimo Kouyate serving as the producer.

DVD and Digital Bonus Materials Include: 
• Director & Animators Commentary
Puppy! An Original Hotel Transylvania Short
• Jailbreak Decoded: The Untold Story
• “Good Vibrations” Dance Along
• “Good Vibrations” Lyric Video
• Express Yourself: Meet The Cast
• Girls Can Code!
• Choreographing Emoji With Matt Steffanina
• Creating the World Inside Your Phone
• Bringing Emojis to Life
• How To Draw Poop
• How To Draw Gene

Blu-ray Exclusive Bonus Materials Include:
Everything listed above, plus:
Gimme a Hand! Guess the Emoji Game
• Sweet App-etite: Make Your Own Candy Crush Inspired Saga Cake

THE EMOJI MOVIE has a run time of approximately 91 minutes and is rated PG: for Rude Humor.

ABOUT SONY PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) is a Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) company. Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE’s global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition and distribution; television production, acquisition and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. For additional information, go to http://www.sonypictures.com.

ABOUT SONY PICTURES ANIMATION
Sony Pictures Animation produces a variety of animated and family entertainment for audiences around the world. The studio is following its worldwide comedy hits—the record-breaking monster comedies Hotel Transylvania and Hotel Transylvania 2, the hybrid live action/animated blockbusters The Smurfs and The Smurfs 2, and the mouth-watering Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movies—with the fully animated reboot Smurfs: The Lost Village available on digital and Blu-ray now; a surprising and comic take at the secret world inside our phones with The Emoji Movie in July 2017; the inspirational The Star in November 2017; Hotel Transylvania 3 in July 2018; and an animated Spider-Man feature from the minds of directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord in December 2018. The studio, in conjunction with Aardman Animations, has produced two critically acclaimed feature films: the CG-animated family comedy Arthur Christmas; and the Academy Award® nominated stop-frame animated high-seas adventure, The Pirates! Band of Misfits. In 2007, Surf’s Up also received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Animated Feature Film; a sequel entitled Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania is now available on digital and DVD. The division, whose first feature film Open Season led to a very successful movie franchise including the brand new Open Season: Scared Sillynow available on digital, DVD and Blu-ray, was founded in 2002. Sony Pictures Animation is a division of the Sony Pictures Motion Pictures Group.

Film Review “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

Starring: Dev Patel, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith
Directed by: John Madden
Rated: PG
Running time: 2 hours 2 mins
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The irony about being a film critic is that, sometimes, I’m the one that gets criticized for what I’ve written. I know what to expect when I recommend an Adam Sandler film. Sue me, I’m a 13 year old boy in an old man’s body. But this afternoon, as I was preparing this review, I saw a criticism I never would have expected. While going back to see what I had rated the original “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” I noticed a comment had been left. Basically it read:

There is NO WAY English senior’s immune, digestive system can handle Indian foods, whatsoever. Yet again this is nothing but another nonsensical story set in a place which Western senior-transplants haven’t ANY possibility of surviving. (sic)

Wow! Someone sure had a lot of time on his hands. As well as a much better understanding of the British digestive system then I do. Anyway, I thought I’d share that. And now, on with the show.

When we last left our over enthusiastic innkeeper Sonny Kapoor (Patel), he had just convinced a group of elderly British citizens to call his burgeoning hotel “home.” Today we find him visiting the United States, speeding down the historic Route 66 with the barb-tongued Mrs. Donnelly (Smith) by his side. They meet with the owner of a large international hotel chain (David Strathairn) in the hopes of having him finance Sonny’s dream of another hotel and the beginnings of an empire. Sonny is soon due to marry the lovely Sunaina (Tina Desai) and he wants a new hotel to be a wedding gift to his bride. Sonny and Mrs. Donnelly return to India assured that an inspector from the hotel chain would visit to see how Sonny runs his operation. But when more than one new guest shows up to register for a stay, it is obvious that the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel can use some expansion help.

Cleverly written and expertly acted, “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is a welcome, sunny treat during these final weeks of winter. Bolstered by Patel’s exuberance and a first rate cast of British acting veterans, the film sometimes returns to the same situations that occupied the first film but with enough charm that it survives on its own merits. Joining the returning cast is Richard Gere, a recently divorced man looking for a quiet place to write a novel. He is smitten with Sonny’s mother (Lillete Dubey), who is unsure how to accept this Western man’s advances. As for the returning residents, we find Evelyn (Dench) now gainfully employed while Douglas (Nighy), continues to silently pine for her. And of course, Mrs Donnelly is as feisty as ever, delivering such lines as “just because I’m looking at you when you’re speaking doesn’t mean I’m paying attention to you,” with the timing of Groucho Marx. These stories, and others, once again intertwine as the wedding day gets closer. Gere is especially good here, doing what he does best, romance. Even at age 65, Gere is, as Sonny points out, “so handsome that even I question my own sexuality.”

Director John Madden, who also helmed the first film as well as “Shakespeare in Love,” has reteamed with writer Ol Parker to bring old friends back together and introduce us to new ones. Not sure if there’s a third story on this hotel, but it’s certainly one I’d be more than happy to visit.

“Birdman”, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Lead 87th Academy Award Nominations

“Birdman,” the film that triumphantly put Michael Keaton back on the map and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Wes Anderson’s fanciful comedy, led all films this morning when the nominations for the 87th Annual Academy Awards were announced, with each film garnering (9) nominations, including Best Picture.  Other films with multiple nominations include “The Imitation Game” (8), “American Sniper” and “Boyhood” (6) each, and “Interstellar,” “The Theory of Everything” and “Whiplash” with (5).  All of these films, with the exception of “Interstellar,” earned Best Picture nods.  The last film in the Best Picture race is “Selma,” which surprised many by only earning (2) nods.  Due to the revised voting system, only (8) films qualified for Best Picture nominations – a maximum of (10) are allowed.

In the race for Best Director, the nominees are Alejandro G. Inarritu (“Birdman”), Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”), Bennet Miller (“Foxcatcher”), Wes Anderson (“The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Morten Tyldum (“The Imitation Game”).

Bradley Cooper earned his third consecutive Oscar nomination, this one for Best Actor, for his role as real life soldier Chris Kyle in “American Sniper.”  Other nominees for Best Actor include Steve Carell (“Foxcatcher”), Bennedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game”), Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) and Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”).  Best Actress nominees are Marion Cotillard (“Two Days, One Night”), Felicity Jones (“The Theory of Everything”), Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”), Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) and Reese Witherspoon (“Wild”)

In the Supporting Actor category, the nominees are Robert Duvall (“The Judge”) Ethan Hawke (“Boyhood”), Edward Norton (“Birdman”), Mark Ruffalo (“Foxcatcher”) and J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”).  Supporting Actress nods went to Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”), Laura Dern (“Wild”), Keira Knightley (“The Imitation Game”), Emma Stone (“Birdman”) and Meryl Streep (“Into the Woods”).  This is Meryl Streep’s NINETEENTH acting nomination, an incredible achievement.

Nods for Best Animated Film went to “Big Hero 6,” “The Boxtrolls,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “Song of the Sea” and “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.”

The winners will be announced on February 22, 2015.  Mark you ballots now!

Win a Blu-ray of Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”


To celebrate the Blu-ray release of Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, Media Mikes is excited to giveaway one (1) copy of the Blu-ray combo pack to our readers. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of this prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite Wes Anderson film. This giveaway will remain open until June 27th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US and Canada only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of legendary concierge Gustave H. and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft of a priceless painting; a raging battle for an enormous family fortune; and a desperate chase on motorcycles, trains, sleds, and skis – all against the backdrop of a suddenly and dramatically changing continent.

Blu-ray Review “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Jude Law, Owen Wilson
Director: Wes Anderson
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Run Time: 120 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was no question one of my most anticipated films of 2014. It is also since seeing it one of my favorites. The film is absolutely stunning and like all Wes Anderson films completely out there. It is funny and yet romantic at the same time. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” has an ultra all-star cast including Ralph Fiennes, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Jude Law, Adrien Brody, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Léa Seydoux and Harvey Keitel. Let’s not forget the hotel, which is a like a character itself. This is beautifully shot. If you are a Wes Anderson film, you will not be let down!

Official Premise: The Grand Budapest Hotel recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune — all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” comes to Blu-ray in a combo pack including a Digital HD Ultraviolet copy. The 1080p transfer is nothing short of a masterpiece. The film switches between a wide array of aspect ratios including 2.39:1, 1.85:1 and 1.33:1, which is the bulk of film. I really enjoyed the way that Anderson and his cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman decided to be very experimental with the way they shot this film. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track also works perfectly with the dialogue and score.

Since all of Wes Anderson’s films make their way to Criterion Collection, they are going to have a hard time topping the audio and video tracks. But they definitely have room to improve in the special features, which are ok but nothing spectacular like the film. “Bill Murray Tours the Town” is short featurette with the actor visiting locations. There are three short Vignettes, which run under 10 minutes. There are three promotional featurettes focusing around “The Making of The Grand Budapest Hotel”, the “Cast”, director “Wes Anderson”. Lastly there is a Stills Gallery and Theatrical Trailer.

Film Review “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori and F. Murray Abraham
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 40 mins
Fox Searchlight

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Though it may not look like much today, a half century ago there was no place finer than the Grand Budapest Hotel. We meet a young writer (Jude Law), who is researching the hotel for an upcoming book. As luck would have it, he is informed that the hotel’s owner, Mr. Moustafa (Abraham) is on the premises. A quiet man, Mr. Moustafa visits often and when he does, insists that he lodge in a small room in the employee quarters. Mr. Moustapha invites our young writer to join him for dinner and, over wine, tells him the story of the majestic hotel.

As the second World war rages across Europe, we are introduced to Mr. Gustave (Fiennes), the concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel. Gustave is in charge of everything – from the flowers put out on the tables to what is served for dinner. When he’s not looking out for the needs of the guests, Gustave is looking out for the needs of the FEMALE guests, preferably the elderly ones. He gives them pleasure and, when they pass on to a better place, they give him a piece of their estate. As we meet Gustave he has just hired a young man (Revolori) to be the hotel’s newest Lobby Boy. Things go well until Gustave learns that one of his favorite guests (an unrecognizable Tilda Swinton, standing in for Angela Lansbury (!)) has passed on. He attends the reading of the will and learns that he has been left a very valuable painting. However, the late woman’s children, led by a wild eyed Adrien Brody, protest. Realizing his chances of getting the painting legally are probably slim and none, Gustave, with the assistance of his trusted Lobby Boy, steal the painting. And the adventures begin.

Wes Anderson has always found a way to create different worlds so perfectly that we, the audience, feel right at home in them. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is no exception. Filled with fully fleshed out characters, amazing dialogue and a look that is right out of the 1940s, the film travels smoothly on the shoulders of Ralph Fiennes. Moviegoers who know him only as the sadistic Nazi officer of “Schindler’s List” or Lord Voldemort may be shocked when they see what a fine and natural comedian he is. He is joined by an all star cast that includes Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel and long time collaborators Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray. The script, by Anderson and Hugo Guiness and inspired by the works of author Stefan Zweig, is full of the humorous twists and turns that Anderson is well known for. The production design is outstanding, with attention to detail making the film a virtual picture postcard of the Continent.

Blu-ray 3D Review "Hotel Transylvania"

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Andy Samberg
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Number of discs: 3
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Animation
DVD Release Date: January 29, 2013
Run Time: 91 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

After Adam Sandler’s last few terrible films like “That’s My Boy” and Jack and Jill”, I didn’t want to see any more of him. Luckily in “Hotel Transylvania” you only have to hear him, so that works for me. This is also the directorial debut for Genndy Tartakovsky, who is known best for “Samuari Jack” and the 2003 “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” mini-series. The animation style is very different but the man definitely knows how to direct animation. I am a big fan of the classic monsters and this film feels like today’s reboot of Rankin/Bass’ “Mad Monster Party”. We get all the great monsters here and this film is actually really funny and entertaining. I would highly recommend checking this out for sure, especially in 3D if possible. Sony Animation is really stepping up its game and delivering hit after hit in this department.

Besides Adam Sandler playing the role of Dracula. Wizard of Wavery Place’s Selena Gomez plays Mavis, Dracula’s 118 year old “teenage” daughter, Andy Samberg plays the human Jonathan, Kevin James voices Frankenstein and his wife Eunice is voiced by Fran Drescher. Steve Buscemi is Wayne the Werewolf and his wife Wanda is voiced by Molly Shannon. David Spade voices Griffin the Invisible Man. Cee Lo Green is Murray, the obese mummy. Lastly, Jon Lovitz voices Quasimodo Wilson, the former Hunchback of Notre Dame now a gourmet chef. I love the twist that they put on each of these classic monsters. It adds a lot to the film and really delivers the laughs.

Official Premise: Welcome to Hotel Transylvania, Dracula’s lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up and no humans are allowed. One special weekend, Dracula (Sandler) has invited all his best friends – Frankenstein and his wife, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Werewolf family, and more – to celebrate his beloved daughter Mavis’s (Gomez) 118th birthday. For Dracula, catering to all of these legendary monsters is no problem, but the party really starts when one ordinary guy stumbles into the hotel and changes everything.

I have to come straight out and say that I feel that Sony delivers the best Blu-ray experience, specially with Blu-ray 3D. They have been very consistent and never let’s you down. This release is very impressive in all areas. It comes as a combo pack with a Blu-ray 3D disc, a stanard Blu-ray, a DVD disc and also an UltraViolet Digital Copy, which will be immediately added to my account for repeat viewings. The 1080p transfer is really perfect. The 3D effects in the film are fun and not too over-the-top. I feel that they look even better on home media format then in theaters. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track really works well with the music and crazy antics that this film delivers.

The special features are kick-ass just like the film and come jam-packed with a lot of kid-friendly goodies. First up we have ““Goodnight Mr. Foot””, which is the new mini-movie also directed and animated by Genndy Tartakovsky. There are three deleted scenes included. There is a music video by Becky G Featuring will.i.am for the song “Problem (Monster Remix)”, as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette on the video. There is a really sweet commentary with Director Genndy Tartakovsky, Producer Michelle Murdocca, and Visual Effects Supervisor Daniel Kramer. I loved listening to Genndy talks about the film and Daniel giving tips about the effects used. The rest of the extras are exclusive to the Blu-ray discs including three progression reels and two Featurettes: ““Meet the Staff and Guests: Voicing Hotel Transylvania”” and ““Making the Hotel””. Both featurettes are great and a higlight of the release.

Book Review “The Art and Making of Hotel Transylvania”

Author: Tracey Miller-Zarneke
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: September 25, 2012

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

I am huge fan of the classic Universal monsters and films like Rankin/Bass’ “Mad Monster Party”. “Hotel Transylvania” feels like a 2012 new take on classic horror monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, Werewolf, and the Invisible Man. The film is directed by Genndy Tartakovsky (who also delivers a great foreword), creator of “Samurai Jack” and executive producer and director of “Star Wars: Clone Wars” animated series, so you know you are getting quality. “The Art and Making of Hotel Transylvania” is a very fun and very informative look into the film and its production. Titan Books scores again for sure. When I honestly see that they are doing an Art/Making of book, I get psyched because they never you let down. This book also got me 100% more excited to see this film now. Fans of classics monsters, definitely check this out!

The film features the classic monsters but in more modern settings like Dracula owns a monsters-only hotel. I think that is a fun twist and should please both kids and parents alike. This book not only covers the beautiful art of this animated CG film but also dives deep into the production. There are over 400 pieces of concept art, character sketches, storyboards and digital art. It is nice to also include the digital aspect of the film since it really gives an insight into how much work went into this film. I am just a huge fan of concept art, I don’t know what it is but I love seeing the artists different conceptual designs. Besides all art there is also numerous interviews with filmmakers and crew chatting about the creating this film.

This book is authored by Tracey Miller-Zarneke, who has credited roles on the feature films “Meet the Robinsons”, “Chicken Little” and “The Emperor’s New Groove”. So this lady actually knows animation very well. If you still need more proof, Tracey has also written a bunch of other amazing “art of” books including “The Art and Making of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs”, “The Art of Kung Fu Panda 2” and “The Art of How to Train Your Dragon”. The book is very well presented and just looks amazing. The colors are very sharp and really pop off the pages. If their goal for this book was to really deliver us the world behind the film, “Hotel Transylvania”, (which I am sure it was) then they did their job very well. Highly recommended!

Complimentary Passes to the Orlando, FL Screening for “Hotel Transylvania” [ENDED]

ALL TICKETS HAVE BEEN DISTRIBUTED! THANKS AGAIN FOR VISITING AND STAY TUNED LATER THIS WEEK FOR NEW GIVEAWAYS!!

For your chance to receive event passes, log on to www.GOFOBO.com/RSVP
Enter RSVP code: MEDIAM9ZLH
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Winter Park, FL
Passes are limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Welcome to the Hotel Transylvania, Dracula’s lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up, free from meddling from the human world. As a haven for his daughter Mavis, he opens the Hotel Transylvania, where his daughter and some of the world’s most famous monsters — Frankenstein and his bride, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, a family of werewolves, and more — can kick back in safety and peace.

 “Hotel Transylvania” movie hits theaters on September 28, 2012.

Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Screenwriter: Don Rhymer
Starring: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Cee-Lo Green, David Spade, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Koechner

Film Review “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

Starring: Judi Dench, Dev Patel and Bill Nighy
Directed by: John Madden
PG 13
Running time: 2 hours 3 mins
Fox Searchlight

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This time of year brings many surprises to the multiplex. This season’s first surprise is a charming film packed with a who’s who of some of the greatest actors to ever come out of England. The film is called “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and it’s a fine diversion from the super heroes and animated fare that fills theatres in the summer months.

The story concerns a group of Brit senior citizens looking for a way to keep their autumn years comfortable. Evelyn (Dench) is recently widowed and learning that her husband has left her in a considerable amount of debt. Graham (Tom Wilkinson) is a retired judge who still regrets leaving the love of his youth. Douglas and Jean (Nighy and Penelope Wilton) are a couple of civil servants trying to rekindle the sparks of their marriage. These people and others are drawn to a brochure they are sent from India advertising the opulent Marigold Hotel. Soon the group is off to Jaipur, hoping to spread their retirement money out longer in the Indian economy. However, when they arrive they discover that the hotel is not as fancy as pictured. The phones don’t work, the faucets drip and not all of the rooms have doors. However, inspired by the passion of the hotel’s young owner/manager Sonny (Patel) the palace they imagined begins to take shape.

Skillfully acted by a group that has, between them, 14 Academy Award nominations and 3 Oscars (not to mention the one Bill Nighy should have won for “Love Actually”), the film is the greatest assemblage of British talent since the last “Harry Potter” film. As each person begins to deal with their new surroundings, the story enfolds, enveloping each of them with the magic that Sonny is trying to restore to his family’s hotel. Also along for the trip is Mrs. Donnelly (Maggie Smith) who, rather than wait on a rather long list for a hip transplant, takes advantage of the cost and availability of Indian medicine and two seniors (Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup) still looking for the excitement that love brings. There are secrets to be discovered, of course, and that is what makes this rather exotic trip worthwhile. Patel brings the same youthful ambition here that he displayed in “Slumdog Millionaire” and more then holds his own against his older co-stars. On the technical side, the film is brilliant with the colors and sights of India, delivering a much more nuanced vision of the country then the one featured in many films. Director Madden keeps the pace moving briskly, helped mightily by a witty script by Ol Parker, based on Deborah Moggach’s novel, “These Foolish Things.”