British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.
In 1976, Steven Spurrier, a sommelier in Paris, comes to the Napa Valley to take the best he can find to Paris for a blind taste test against French wine. He meets Jim Barrett, whose Chateau Montelena is mortgaged to the hilt as Jim perfects his chardonnay. There's strain in Jim's relations with his hippie son Bo and his foreman Gustavo, a Mexican farmworker's son secretly making his own wine. Plus, there's Sam, a UC Davis graduate student and free spirit, mutually attracted to both Gustavo and Bo. As Spurrier organizes the "Judgment of Paris," Jim doesn't want to participate while Bo knows it's their only chance. Barrett's chardonnay has buttery notes and a Smithsonian finish. Written by
When Sam, Gustavo and Bo are encountering the big truck driver, Sam's off the shoulder top changes position from shot to shot. See more »
[voice-over during a vineyard pan]
It wasn't always like this. Before Paris, people didn't drink our wine. I mean, my friends did. But you could hardly consider their palates discerning...
Hell, we were farmers... sort of...
[pan to empty bottles of Montelena label and several early twenties/late teens smoking hookah]
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Great story with a bit of Hollywood editorializing
Yes, it may be a bit Hollywood-ized, but overall it's a fun film with a great cast. Alan Rickman is delightful as Stephen Spurrier (not portraying him as effete, as the real S. Spurrier complained of upon reading the screenplay), and Bill Pullman, Freddy Rodriguez, and Chris Pine all turn in great performances as well. Dennis Farina is an amusing and welcome addition if also because of his scenes with Rickman. One negative aspect is that the gorgeous and talented Rachael Taylor is not put to better use. Also, one very negative aspect is that the love plot is totally weird and seems an afterthought - the movie would have been a lot better without it.
That said, I really don't have other complaints, and I found the story interesting and basically just enjoyed the film. Sure, it may have some corny scenes, but geez.. when was the last time you watched a movie without a corny scene?? Just because you've seen the story before in, say, The Mighty Ducks, doesn't make it necessarily bad.
Also, for those who have issues with the facts of the story that have been changed, you can rent any number of documentaries on the story for free from your library - this film, might I remind you, declares itself "based" on a true story, which it is. I also highly recommend checking out George Taber's book, Judgment of Paris, which inspired this film.
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