Synopsis - As the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has only a single remaining vacancy – posing a rooming predicament for two fresh arrivals – Sonny pursues his expansionist dream of opening a second hotel.
My Take - This is one of those rare sequels, which builds on the appeal of the original as it stands on its own merits & is everything that a sequel should be. The blending of both cultures (British & Indian), even though shown in various films, the basic idea behind this film remains fresh and relevant. The story stays true to its characters, takes their journey forward in natural and meaningful ways, and brings in new characters and new conflicts to shake things up. Just like the previous installment, the film succeeds in being creative, engaging, touching and funny. Taking a few place a few months after the 1st one ended, Sonny Kapur (Dev Patel) & Mrs. Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) are on their way to a business meeting with Ty Burley (David Strathairn), the head of a chain of extended-stay hotels that cater to the aged. Apparently, they have the customer demand, but they need investors to help them purchase a vacant hotel in town. Mr. Burley won’t commit, but he does agree to send an incognito inspector in the near future. Very excited and mildly encouraged (respectively), Sonny and Mrs. Donnelly head home.
Back in Jaipur, there’s much more going on with the residents and staff of the hotel than just expansion plans. Sonny is working through wedding plans with his fiance, Sunaina (Tina Desae), but feels threatened by her friend Kushal (Shazad Latif) who has been teaching Sunaina complicated dances for the engagement party and wedding. Norman (Ronald Pickup) alternately bemoans and appreciates having made the decision to be exclusive with live-in girlfriend Carol (Diana Hardcastle), who just may have a wandering eye of her own. Meanwhile, Madge (Celia Imrie), Norman’s female equivalent in the group, is being courted by two wealthy Indian men, but wonders if she should be looking in still another direction for happiness. Evelyn (Judi Dench) and Douglas (Bill Nighy) seem to want to get together, but both are afraid to make a move & things get even more complicated when Douglas’ wife, Jean (Penelope Wilton), shows up to finalize their divorce with their daughter (Fiona Mollison) in tow. Last, but certainly not least, Sonny is falling all over himself to impress a new guest named Guy Chambers (Richard Gere), who Sonny is convinced is the hotel inspector. But, much to Sonny’s dismay, Guy mainly seems interested in getting to know Sonny’s widowed mother (Lillette Dubey). Meanwhile, Sonny is being consistently rude to another new guest, Lavinia Beach (Tamsin Greig), who tells him she’s looking for a place for her elderly mother to live. The stress of all this gets to Sonny and he begins making mistake after mistake, both in his personal relationships and in his business. But while he’s working through all that, the hotel’s residents are making mistakes of their own – and jeopardizing opportunities that may never come again. A lot of the laughs are aimed at the ages of the hotel’s residents, but they’re in on the joke, laughing with and at themselves and each other, while also saying and showing what lives well-lived are all about. The aging characters’ everyday speech combines common doubts and struggles with wise words, reflecting a lifetime of experience, and carrying great lessons for any younger audience members who will make the effort to really listen. You have to smile as the effervescent enthusiasm of the totally inept Sonny bubbles over in every single thing he does. Held together by the team around him, Sonny finds the demands on his time pulling him in all directions as he tries to expand his business and arrange his marriage. The audience were laughing throughout as we bounced back and forth between each character’s story and the addition of both Tamsin Grieg and Richard Gere were both entertaining and welcome.
Maggie Smith gives another wonderful performance, her character is much more wiser & more observant this time. The presence of Judi Dench & Bill Nighly is a sense of confirmation of how good the film is! There are no words to declare how marvelous this two master performers are! Lillete Dubey was wonderful as was Tina Desai. Although he caused quite a stir when the line-up was first released, Richard Gere wasn’t a particularly exciting addition in the end, but that’s not to say he didn’t do a good job – mediocre, but still didn’t take anything away from the film. Dev Patel is surprisingly the main star of the show! Hilarious & earnest, at times he even managed to steal the show from the veterans. Anyways, with such an amazing cast who all played their parts flawlessly, all bringing something different to the story. I don’t think anyone can really argue about the cast. Speaking critically, of course it’s not a perfect, flawless film, simple as. Nor is it “ground-breaking” story-telling. It’s a harmless film and isn’t there to be picked apart for every little plot failing it may have. It’s there to be enjoyed and if you let yourself, you will. On the whole ‘Second Best Marigold Hotel’ makes you laugh, makes you cry & makes you reflect. It gets the point of the film across splendidly – that life can be an adventure at any age. That is the point of the film. It’s all that you want and need it to be. It lovely and amusing and certainly does not disappoint. Shall we get a ‘Third Best Marigold Hotel’ please?
Overall Rating: 8
Director - John Madden
Starring - Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy
Rated - PG
Run Time - 122 minutes