(2015) (Dev Patel, Judi Dench) (PG)
- QUICK TAKE:
- Drama: A young Indian man hopes to open a second hotel for the elderly in his hometown, but must contend with a rival, all while his long-term guests go about their new lives there.
- Having already established the successful Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful in his hometown of Jaipur, India, Sonny Kapoor (DEV PATEL) has set his sights on another building that he wants to purchase in order to expand his business. Accordingly, he briefly travels to America -- with one of his long-term guests and his new business partner, Muriel Donnelly (MAGGIE SMITH) -- to meet with investor Ty Burley (DAVID STRATHAIRN).
When they return with knowledge that their potential investor will be sending his "guy" to check out their operation, Sonny is sure that aspiring author Guy Chambers (RICHARD GERE) is that man, to the point of giving him the room just assigned to newcomer Lavinia Beech (TAMSIN GREIG).
That doesn't sit well with Sonny's fiancée, Sunaina (TENA DESAE), who's busy planning their wedding, including with help from her brother's silver spoon best friend, Kushal (SHAZAD LATIF), who's helping with the dance choreography. Seeing them together brings out some jealousy in Sonny who's otherwise too preoccupied to notice that Guy has eyes for Sonny's long-widowed mother, Mrs. Kapoor (LILLETE DUBEY).
Other romance is in the air there as well, including Madge Hardcastle (CELIA IMRIE) trying to pick among her various suitors. Then there's Douglas Ainslie (BILL NIGHY), whose wife, Jean (PENELOPE WILTON), earlier left him, thus allowing him to grow fond of Evelyn Greenslade (JUDI DENCH).
She tries to sort out her feelings for him while accepting a full-time job as a fabric and textiles buyer, all while Norman Cousins (RONALD PICKUP) becomes suspicious that his girlfriend, Carol Parr (DIANA HARDCASTLE), might be seeing someone else. As all of that occurs, Sonny does what he can to impress Guy, while his jealousy and inattention to his upcoming wedding to Sunaina threatens to jeopardize their relationship.
- OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10
- In my review for the 2012 release of "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," I stated: "I found it pleasant enough, and you certainly can't go wrong with the veteran performers called into action. It's just with so many roles and stories, most of what's offered feels a bit superficial rather than deep and impactful. In fact, it almost feels a bit like a pilot episode for a new series that introduces everyone, with the knowledge that it will have follow-up episodes to give everyone their due."
While the TV series never materialized (such a weekly grind might have been too much for the mostly older cast), fans of the first film will nevertheless be delighted that a follow-up, "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," has arrived three years later. Granted, naming any film "second best" -- sequel or not -- never seems like a good idea.
That is, unless the intentions are to temper viewer expectations. Granted, I doubt the returning cast (including the likes of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel and the rest of the gang) or filmmakers (scribe Ol Parker and helmer John Madden reprise their roles behind the camera) viewed their participation in that way, and fans of the previous work will likely no doubt enjoy what's offered here.
For those wanting a bit more than just a fairly simple extension of the original story and its characters' traits, however, this might feel more like a two-hour stay at a Courtyard rather than the Four Seasons. In other words, it's familiar and comfortable, but nothing special or particularly memorable.
As was the case the first time around, there are simply too many characters and storylines for any to get their deserved due. Dev Patel again plays the proprietor of the original establishment and he's too busy trying to woo the inspector (new to the fold Richard Gere) of a potential investor (David Strathairn) for the titular locale to pay as much attention as needed to the wedding plans of his fiancée (Tena Desae), or the needs of a new guest (Tamsin Greig).
To complicate matters, Gere's character becomes enamored with Sonny's mother (Lillete Dubey), while Sonny also ends up jealous of the silver spoon best friend (Shazad Latif) of Sunaina's brother who he believes is gunning for his gal. Bill Nighy is decidedly casting romantic eyes at Judi Dench, but she has cold feet while also landing a new job that segues into yet another subplot. And Nighy's soon-to-be ex-wife (Penelope Wilton) then shows up with their adult daughter and another storyline branches off.
During all of that, Ronald Pickup thinks he may have accidentally put out a drunken hit on his girlfriend (Diana Hardcastle), something he then tries to stop (all played for laughs), but may wish to enact for real once he learns of her wandering loins. Celia Imrie hopes to sort out her suitors, all while befriending a local cabbie and that man's young niece, all while Maggie Smith's character has thankfully shed her previous, racist demeanor, but is still a curmudgeon to most (albeit with a warm, beating heart after all).
Phew, that's a lot of people and plots for a movie just a touch over two hours in length. Thankfully, and as was the cast the first time around, the simple presence of the cast makes it all go down fairly easy. That said, I could have done with less of the comedy bits stemming from Patel's character's growing jealousy, and a bit deeper exploration of the film's thematic elements about life not being over beyond a certain age.
Speaking of getting old, it's possible this franchise could start suffering from that if nothing ends up changing should a third hotel and related film be in the works. Then we might feel as if we're living out the signature lyric from "Hotel California." Thankfully, "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" hasn't overstayed its welcome, but it might be time for it to check out. The film rates as a 5.5 out of 10.
Reviewed March 2, 2015 / Posted March 6, 2015
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