A movie review of “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”: The original’s all-star cast returns in this “second best” film about British senior citizens who opt for a cheap hotel in India. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.
How do you approach a sequel that includes “second best” in the title? It’s not exactly suggesting originality. The title promises more of the same — and that’s exactly what we’re in the market for this time.
Too bad it misses the lighter-than-air quality that kept the original from becoming a slog. The plot doesn’t help either. The storyline of the sequel ends up tying itself in knots, and the addition of a splashy, expensive-looking Bollywood musical number just underlines the lack of perspective.
Three years ago, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” became a minor box-office success, thanks largely to an all-star cast of senior citizens who knew precisely how to deliver on the promise of this latest variation on the “Grand Hotel” formula.
Movie Review ★★
‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,’ with Judi Dench, Dev Patel, Richard Gere, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton. Directed by John Madden, from a screenplay by Ol Parker. 122 minutes. Rated PG for language, suggestive comments. Several theaters.
The sequel begins much like the first film, in which bouncy, resourceful Sonny (Dev Patel) demonstrated his talent for resurrecting a rundown Indian hotel and luring British retirees to sign up for his lower rates. This time he’s adding another hotel and dealing with the consequences, which include a foxy new guest (Richard Gere).
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Still around are grumpy co-manager Maggie Smith, who throws away a couple of sarcastic digs at America that might have been lifted from her character on “Downton Abbey”; Judi Dench and Bill Nighy as an on-again, off-again couple; and Penelope Wilton (another welcome “Downton” veteran) as Nighy’s restless, divorce-seeking wife.
Also held over from the first film are director John Madden, who directed Dench to an Oscar-winning performance in “Shakespeare in Love,” and screenwriter Ol Parker. Madden provides plenty of local color, and he draws good performances from Dench and Wilton, but Nighy and Gere are allowed to drown in self-pity. Midway through “Second Best,” the picture begins to feel less than second best.