Because of its relative lack of star power, Table No. 21 is only opening on Friday, January 4, 2013, at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. The film has a mercifully short runtime of 1 hr. 48 min.
Two films make their debuts in Chicago area theaters the weekend beginning May 25, 2012. First up is Arjun: The Warrior Prince, an animated film co-produced by UTV and Disney.
Arjun opens on Friday at the Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles. The family friendly film has English subtitles and a runtime of 96 minutes.
Also new in local theaters this weekend is Married 2 America, a thriller about an Indian-America woman whose husband goes missing while investigating a dam accident in India. The film released in Indian theaters on February 17. I suspect the success of Kahaani — which has a similar premise — prompted the eventual release of Married 2 America in the States.
Married 2 America opens on Friday at the Golf Glen 5 and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. It has a runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.
Department carries over for a second week at both the Golf Glen 5 and South Barrington 30, which also holds over Vicky Donor for a sixth week. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — a British comedy set in India — expands nationwide this weekend.
Other Indian movies playing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include the Telugu films Daruvu and Gabbar Singh and the Malayalam film Mallu Singh. The U.S. box office report for last weekend listed the total U.S. earnings for Grandmaster ($17,077) and Kalakalappu @ Masala Cafe ($30,949).
If you’d like to catch up on other films released earlier this year, the Bollywood rom-coms Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya and Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu are currently available for streaming on Netflix, as is the Tamil action film Vettai.
The romantic thriller Dangerous Ishhq — starring Karisma Kapoor — is the only new Hindi movie opening in Chicago area theaters on May 11, 2012.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — a British movie I reviewed last week — expands the number of theaters showing it on Friday as well, after earning $737,051 from just 27 theaters during its first week in the U.S.
Last weekend’s new Hindi release, Jannat 2, gets a second week at the South Barrington 30, while Vicky Donor gets a fourth week at the South Barrington 30 and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. Its U.S. earnings total $466,467, driven by good word of mouth. Compare that to Tezz, which leaves area theaters after two weeks, having earned just $218,622 despite showing in twice as many U.S. theaters as Vicky Donor.
Though it’s only releasing theatrically in India on Friday, U.S. fans will be able to watch the new Hindi film The Forest on the subscription video-streaming service Mela the same day. The film about a married couple terrorized by a man-eating leopard is made by Oscar-nominated director Ashvin Kumar.
Note: I’m deviating from Bollywood fare in order to review a British film set in India that features Hindi-film actors Lillete Dubey, Rajendra Gupta, and Sid Makkar.
Early in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, married couple Jean (Penelope Wilton) and Douglas (Bill Nighy) tour a retirement home. The apartment they tour features a wall-mounted emergency call button to be used in case one should fall and need assistance. Jean caustically notes that the button is handy if she should happen to accidentally fall right next to it, but not so much if she falls anywhere else in the room.
My parents recently moved into a retirement community with a similar setup. To access their emergency call button, one of them would have to fall and land wedged between the TV set and the wall. I’m as skeptical of their button’s usefulness as Jean is of hers.
That sense of pragmatism pervades a movie with a somewhat a fantastical premise: starting a new life of luxury in exotic India. A brochure promises opulent retirement living for British pensioners at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful.
But it’s not a sense of adventure that leads the characters to move from England to India. For Jean, Douglas, Evelyn (Judi Dench), and Muriel (Maggie Smith), it’s financial worries. For Graham (Tom Wilkinson), it’s a desire to right a youthful mistake. And Madge (Celia Imrie) and Norman (Ronald Pickup) want to improve their romantic prospects.
When the group arrives in India, they discover that the hotel is not as luxurious as promised. The brochure depicts the vision young owner Sonny (Dev Patel) has for his family’s property, not its current derelict state. The manner in which the retirees deal with their situation makes up the meat of the story.
As my parents, in-laws, and their friends approach (and, in some cases, surpass) age 70, they’ve all repeated the same refrain: “Getting old sucks.” The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is so effective because it acknowledges that reality. No matter how well you think you’ve prepared for your later years, there always seems to be something — money, health, or family troubles — that makes a difficult stage of life even more so.
Acknowledging this reality allows the funny parts of the film to be that much more humorous. And The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a very funny movie.
Given the caliber of the cast, the performances are universally terrific, as each character adapts to the surroundings while addressing the issues that got him or her there in the first place. Penelope Wilton (Mrs. Crawley on Downton Abbey) is effective to an uncomfortable degree as Jean resists settling down in her unfamiliar new home.
Maggie Smith steals the show with her ludicrously inappropriate jabs, which are funny only because of how powerless she is. Awaiting her hip transplant in an Indian hospital, she reacts in shock to discover that her doctor is Indian. Predictably and appropriately, she takes strides to shed her prejudices over the course of the film.
Sonny’s storyline is the only aspect of the movie that doesn’t really work. Rather than intersecting his storyline with those of his tenants, his runs parallel to theirs. When new characters (e.g., his girlfriend and his disapproving mother) are introduced solely to augment Sonny’s story, it just highlights how separate that story is from the rest of the action.
That said, Dev Patel is very funny, and his storyline doesn’t detract much from what is overall a really enjoyable picture.
The Hindi thriller Jannat 2 opens in the Chicago area on May 4, 2012. Despite its title, the film is not a proper sequel to 2008’s Jannat. Emraan Hashmi stars in both movies but plays a different character in the new film. The title choice is confusing, but not unprecedented in Bollywood: Housefull 2 wasn’t a proper sequel to Housefull, either.
Friday also marks the American debut of The Avengers, which will command a lion’s share of screenspace at local multiplexes. Therefore, expect weekend showtimes to differ from weekday showtimes for Jannat 2 and other Hindi films playing in area theaters.
In spite of dismal opening weekend collections of $148,133 from 97 U.S. theaters, Tezz gets a second week at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville.
By contrast, Vicky Donor earned $122,742 from just 50 theaters in its second week, bringing its total U.S. earnings to $357,743. Vicky Donor gets a third week at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17.
Housefull 2 gets a fifth week at the South Barrington 30, with total U.S. earnings of $1,566,991.
One other movie of note opening on Friday is The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The British film set in India opens in a handful of cities — including Chicago — on May 4, expanding to more U.S. theaters in coming weeks. Click here for a complete list of theaters carrying the film on Friday.