Hi everyone, Bryan Here…
It’s been four years since the charming occupants first stepped into the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and I’m here to tell you, that they are all still doing well. Director John Madden and his writer Ol Parker are back for this second trip to India with more or less the same tropes and conflicts from the first outing. ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel‘ won’t change the game or genre, but it’s still filled with enough charm and laughs to satisfy you through its 122 minute run-time. If you’re new to this film franchise, the first film, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel‘ focused a young guy named Sonny (Dev Patel) who opened up a pleasing and beautiful small hotel in the heart of India.
Several elderly British people flocked to the hotel because of its charm and magic that they decided to live there in stead of stay for a long weekend. This sequel adds a couple of American actors to the mix with Richard Gere and David Strathairn in hopes to make a few more dollars, which I’m sure it will. The first film focused more or less on these classy British actors learning the new ways and culture of a foreign land in India, which is where most of the jokes and gags landed on. Now it seems that all of these senior citizens have a new goal in life, which is to enjoy their time at the hotel, while working in and around India. Some even work for the hotel itself.
The first scene sets up the entire plot for the film where Sonny (Patel) and Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) travel to San Diego to receiving financing from a wealthy firm led by Ty Burley (Strathairn) to open up a second hotel, hence the title. After Muriel’s strong tongued speech and Sonny’s enthusiastic passion, Ty tells them that a hotel inspector in disguise will visit the hotel to make sure things are running well. Soon enough, a man by the name of Guy Chambers (Gere) walks into the Marigold Hotel and asks for a room. At the same time, a woman named Lavinia Beech (Tamsin Greig) walks through and desires a room as well, and says she is checking out the hotel for her elderly mother who wants to stay there.
Sonny thinks that Guy is the secret hotel inspector and lays out the red carpet for him 24/7, while dismissing almost everything else in his life including his upcoming wedding to the lovely and beautiful Sunaina (Tina Desai). If that wasn’t enough on his plate, Sunaina’s brother’s friend Kushal (Shazad Latif) seems to be better at just about everything than Sonny, which drives him mad. Meanwhile, the roll call of the residents of the Marigold Hotel are up to the same things.
Evelyn and Douglas (Judi Dench and Bill Nighy) are still only good friends, but are skirting around calling each other a couple. Norman and Carol (Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) are still in love, but still are having a problem of having a monogamous relationship. And then there is the free-spirited and sexually adventurous Madge (Celia Imrie) who is juggling more than a few suitors at a time. Ol Parker’s script carefully and gracefully balances each story, devoting enough time to everyone, even if some of the story plots don’t finish out, which I imagine was the studio’s call over a couple of taboo subjects that didn’t test well.
Despite all of the hammers hitting you over the head with that emotional melodrama and comedy, ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel‘ is still sweet, light-hearted, and fun. It was a good move to add the younger demographic here in focusing more on Sonny and Sunaina’s wedding with all of the planning and dance routines added. But much like the television show ‘Gilmore Girls‘, there is nothing really at stake here with the Marigold Hotel, that can’t be solved over a cup of tea. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but just don’t expect a major life harrowing conflict besides the possibility that Sonny will open another hotel. But these characters are still truly likable and I look forward to yet another trip to this hotel.
4 out of 5 Stars
– Bryan Kluger