- on Friday, 06 March 2015 14:43
- by Frank Wilkins
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’s biggest accomplishment may be that it dispels the widely accepted notion that sequels rarely ever work. Though it lacks the same touch of surprise and magic that endeared the original to millions of unsuspecting fans, The Second contains enough of the same adoring elements to match the original’s entertaining balance of irreverent wit and bittersweet charm.
The action picks up with hotel owner Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) and co-manager Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) traveling to America with hopes of securing seed money to open a second Exotic Marigold Hotel location in India. Naturally, their proposal is met with a healthy dose of skepticism, but with the promise of a visit from an unknown inspector, Sonny and Muriel keep their hopes alive.
Meanwhile, back in Jaipur, each of the hotel’s regular tenants has a subplot to add, including Evelyn (Judi Dench) who, along with Douglas (Bill Nighy), have ventured into the work force, while Norman and Carol (Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) are testing the waters of an exclusive relationship, and Madge (Celie Imrie) is navigating the advances of two eligible suitors. But the film’s main thrust and its unifying theme of family comes from the impending wedding of Sonny to his fiancee Sunaina played by Tina Desai. The three stages of the traditional Indian wedding play out as the film’s opening, second, and final acts.
There are a lot of moving parts here and credit goes to returning director John Madden who keeps everything interesting and gives equal time to each of the film’s many subplots, while only occasionally losing the story’s momentum. The excitement level of act two dips slightly, but it’s all in preparation for the finale’s rousing Bollywood dance number.
Like the original, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel will appeal mostly to an older crowd because of the age of its cast and its story about the lives and relationships of people who are well into their sunset years. The wedding thread and closing dance, while adding a much needed spark to the proceedings, will do nothing to broaden the film’s appeal to a younger crowd. It’s a mature story targeted directly at those who liked the original.
The addition of Richard Gere – whose character may be hiding a big secret – adds a much needed punch as he pursues Sonny’s widowed mother played by the delightful Lillete Dubey. Many will remember her comic relief role from the first film and appreciate that she’s given a chance to enlarge her character here. She build upon the film’s theme of the possibilities that never stop in life.
Standing out in their roles are Smith and Patel. While many will undoubtedly be put off by Patel’s Jerry Lewis puerility, it can’t be denied that he is bursting with a charm and charisma that always plays nicely against Smith’s crabby candor. The addition of Tamsin Greig and David Strathairn was a stroke of casting genius and only elevates the already lofty level of great acting on display.
The title of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel plays clever triple duty as the recognition of its sequel status while also providing an astute nod to the major plot point of the hotel’s expansion. But, unfortunately, it is also an unaware critique and comparison of itself to its progenitor. Regardless, if you liked the first one, you owe it to yourself to continue the journey with a bunch of old friends. You can check out any time you like, but you won’t want to leave.
MPAA Rating: PG for some language and suggestive comments
Runtime: 122 mins
Director: John Madden
writer: Ol Parker
Cast: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy
Genre: Drama | Comedy
Tagline: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Memorable Movie Quote: "Lord have mercy on my ovaries"
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release Date: March 6, 2015
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the expansionist dream of Sonny (Dev Patel), and its making more claims on his time than he has available, considering his imminent marriage to the love of his life, Sunaina (Tena Desae). Sonny has his eye on a promising property now that his first venture, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful, has only a single remaining vacancy posing a rooming predicament for fresh arrivals Guy (Richard Gere) and Lavinia (Tamsin Greig). Evelyn and Douglas (Judi Dench and Bill Nighy) have now joined the Jaipur workforce, and are wondering where their regular dates for Chilla pancakes will lead, while Norman and Carol (Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) are negotiating the tricky waters of an exclusive relationship, as Madge (Celia Imrie) juggles two eligible and very wealthy suitors. Perhaps the only one who may know the answers is newly installed co-manager of the hotel, Muriel (Maggie Smith), the keeper of everyone's secrets. As the demands of a traditional Indian wedding threaten to engulf them all, an unexpected way forward presents itself.
No details available.