The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

the second best exoticReleased: 2015
Director: John Madden
Starring: Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Richard Gere, Dev Patel

Fun, but let’s end the story here

One of the films I’ve enjoyed most in the past few years is The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The story of a group of old people who go to live in India was genuinely heart-warming and blessed with a fabulous cast of the best of British acting talent including Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Dev Patel. It was almost inevitable that there would be a sequel – and so it came to pass – bigger, bolder and fate-temptingly entitled The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel .

Since the events of the previous film, the residents have settled into their lifes in Jaipur and Sonny is even looking to expand his empire of retirement hotels with investment from an American company which promises to send someone to inspect the hotel to judge whether or not Sonny is worthy of their money. While Sonny is sure that Richard Gere (swoooooon) is said inspector, he and his beautiful fiancée are planning their wedding; Evelyn and Douglas (Judi Dench and Bill Nighy) are tiptoeing around a courtship; Madge (Celia Imrie) is juggling two potential husbands; and Norman and Carol (Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) are negotiating a grown-up relationship for the first time in their lives).

As you would expect this wasn’t anywhere near as good as the first film. Not by a country mile. That’s not to say it was bad because it wasn’t, but it just wasn’t as good and it traded a lot on the relationships with the characters and the goodwill built up in the first film. It also relied a lot on the brilliance of the cast. I’m not sure it’s possible to put such fabulous actors in a film together and it come out bad. I think there’s some cosmic force that would make it physically impossible. The story is slight, but pleasant and there are some lovely moments – particularly the big Bollywood dance scenes.

There aren’t any hugely moving storylines in this film such as Tom Wilkinson’s search for his lost love in the first film which leaves it without an emotional core, but The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel does have one great advantage over its predecessor. It allows Judi Dench and Maggie Smith a couple of scenes together to gently spar, a real omission from the previous movie.

Richard Gere was a fabulous addition to the ensemble cast, but then I’m a fan and think that he is generally a great addition to any film. I must one day bore you all by recounting the story of how Pretty Woman played a big part in my wedding day….

I enjoyed The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel but do now feel that the story has reached its conclusion, having a third film would be taking the law of diminishing returns and audience goodwill just that little bit too far.

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