Whisking a bunch of middle-class fogeys from the English suburbs to the sub-continent, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel comes with all the wit, colour and mild condescension you’d expect from any self-respecting culture-clash caper.
It’s directed by John Madden who, having steered Judi Dench to an Oscar nomination in Mrs Brown and an outright win for Shakespeare In Love, here packs the great dame off with several of her most exalted peers for a jolly old time in Jaipur.
She plays Evelyn, a cash-strapped widow who signs up on “the interweb” for a place at a newly renovated yet surprisingly cheap retreat ‘For the Elderly and Beautiful’ in throngingest India.
But as she discovers with her fellow arrivals – narrow-minded invalid Maggie Smith, roving rogue Ronald Pickup, divorced maneater Celia Imrie, retired judge Tom Wilkinson, disapproving snob Penelope Wilton and her long-suffering husband Bill Nighy – the place is not exactly as advertised.
However, with ambitious young hotelier Sonny (Patel) so eager to please, each guest stays to seek out what he or she came for - be it an old lover, a new partner, a new beginning, or a new hip.
Of course, to achieve fulfilment they must first conquer the east-west divide. Except Sonny, whose professional and romantic dreams are continually dashed on the rock of tradition - i.e. his mum.
Yet while gently patronising in its stereotypes – cricket, curry and call centres all feature large while smiling locals put us all to shame with their modesty and humility– it’s agreeably inoffensive stuff (even Smith at her most cantankerous is powerless to prevent her transformation from unloved bigot to benevolent mother hen).
But with a cast that reads like a BAFTA roll call, the sentiment is never overwhelming. And thanks to Madden’s refusal to turn the film into a flossy, glossy Saga saga, nor are the Indian locations. Eat, Pray, Put Kettle On Love this is not.
In terms of spirit and atmosphere, Marigold is as natural as its more experienced performers’ talents.
As their youthful foil Patel is well placed to comment, there’s life in the old slumdogs yet.