Film Review “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

secondbestexoticmarigoldhotel-posterStarring: Dev Patel, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith
Directed by: John Madden
Rated: PG
Running time: 2 hours 2 mins
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The irony about being a film critic is that, sometimes, I’m the one that gets criticized for what I’ve written. I know what to expect when I recommend an Adam Sandler film. Sue me, I’m a 13 year old boy in an old man’s body. But this afternoon, as I was preparing this review, I saw a criticism I never would have expected. While going back to see what I had rated the original “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” I noticed a comment had been left. Basically it read:

There is NO WAY English senior’s immune, digestive system can handle Indian foods, whatsoever. Yet again this is nothing but another nonsensical story set in a place which Western senior-transplants haven’t ANY possibility of surviving. (sic)

Wow! Someone sure had a lot of time on his hands. As well as a much better understanding of the British digestive system then I do. Anyway, I thought I’d share that. And now, on with the show.

When we last left our over enthusiastic innkeeper Sonny Kapoor (Patel), he had just convinced a group of elderly British citizens to call his burgeoning hotel “home.” Today we find him visiting the United States, speeding down the historic Route 66 with the barb-tongued Mrs. Donnelly (Smith) by his side. They meet with the owner of a large international hotel chain (David Strathairn) in the hopes of having him finance Sonny’s dream of another hotel and the beginnings of an empire. Sonny is soon due to marry the lovely Sunaina (Tina Desai) and he wants a new hotel to be a wedding gift to his bride. Sonny and Mrs. Donnelly return to India assured that an inspector from the hotel chain would visit to see how Sonny runs his operation. But when more than one new guest shows up to register for a stay, it is obvious that the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel can use some expansion help.

Cleverly written and expertly acted, “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is a welcome, sunny treat during these final weeks of winter. Bolstered by Patel’s exuberance and a first rate cast of British acting veterans, the film sometimes returns to the same situations that occupied the first film but with enough charm that it survives on its own merits. Joining the returning cast is Richard Gere, a recently divorced man looking for a quiet place to write a novel. He is smitten with Sonny’s mother (Lillete Dubey), who is unsure how to accept this Western man’s advances. As for the returning residents, we find Evelyn (Dench) now gainfully employed while Douglas (Nighy), continues to silently pine for her. And of course, Mrs Donnelly is as feisty as ever, delivering such lines as “just because I’m looking at you when you’re speaking doesn’t mean I’m paying attention to you,” with the timing of Groucho Marx. These stories, and others, once again intertwine as the wedding day gets closer. Gere is especially good here, doing what he does best, romance. Even at age 65, Gere is, as Sonny points out, “so handsome that even I question my own sexuality.”

Director John Madden, who also helmed the first film as well as “Shakespeare in Love,” has reteamed with writer Ol Parker to bring old friends back together and introduce us to new ones. Not sure if there’s a third story on this hotel, but it’s certainly one I’d be more than happy to visit.


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