• Maggie Smith steals the show with her dry, cutting wit.
• Younger moviegoers will connect with young couple’s relationship and wedding storyline.
• Veteran cast shows that life and love are timeless.
Sequels are notoriously disappointing, so there’s good reason to have reservations about seeing “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”
Though the sequel lacks a touch of the magic that came with the grand discovery of the quirky characters and exotic settings in the original production, it uses the same phenomenal cast, sweet writing and beautiful appreciation of the Indian culture to create a film that may be “second best” but is still a winner.
The action picks up with the British seniors as they settle into their lives with found love, lust and new careers.
At the same time, the hotel proprietor, Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel), is juggling plans for his wedding to Sunaina (Tina Desai). He is also trying to buy a property to expand the business. The efforts include a trip to America with the usually unflappable Mrs. Donnelly (Maggie Smith) that leaves her extremely flapped.
The action quickly settles back into life at the hotel where the already talented cast gets an added boost from the addition of Richard Gere as a guest who’s hiding a big secret. His character adds another storyline to the film.
Director John Madden again blends the multiple plot threads so perfectly that he creates a cinematic tapestry that celebrates life and the wide assortment of those who have lived it.
No one trumps Smith for the number of best lines. And, it’s not just that Ol Parker’s screenplay is loaded with the best material for her. Smith has a magical way of delivering the most innocuous words and making them hilarious and biting. She’s shown that skill from “Downton Abbey’ to the “Marigold Hotel.”
Bill Nighy brings a dry humor to the film. He’s roguishly charming and that provides plenty of sparkling moments.
Equally good is Judi Dench, whose Evelyn Greenslade represents the central theme of the film: She’s reached a point in her life where the common perception is that she should take it easy. She soon discovers that the only person who can close the chapters on a person’s life is that person.
Just like the original, “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” will attract older film fans because of the age of the cast. Madden has broadened the appeal through Sonny’s wedding day blues.
The trials that the young couple face trying to get married set up some of the sweetest and funniest moments in the film. It seems all Bollywood-style dancing doesn’t come naturally.
All of the wedding elements also help shift some of the film’s focus. The original film was about foreigners trying to adapt to life in India. Now that they have adjusted, the cultural elements are to show off the culture.
“The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” flies in the face of so many Hollywood conceits. It proves that with the right cast and script, a sequel can be an extremely entertaining experience. It shows what a little extra effort can produce.
More importantly, the film shows that great acting is not the sole propriety of the young. The veteran cast demonstrates that life and love are timeless. In doing so, this cast becomes a global treasure — the kind of riches that make movie-going so enjoyable.
Have no reservations and check into “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”