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Invariably the return or the sequel to a movie that was beloved by millions and grossed many, many more millions will usually be a letdown or just flat out suck…but I said USUALLY. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is actually an improvement upon the original as it just doesn’t need to establish a whole new batch of characters and it lets the original group have some fun while working in the new arrivals.
Booked solid with long term residents, the co-managers of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) and Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) have dreams of expansion, while Evelyn & Douglas (Judi Dench & Bill Nighy) now both firmly entrenched in the Jaipur workforce are wondering if they’re daily breakfast dates mean a little more than either of them can realize. At the same time, Norman and Carol (Ronald Pickup & Diana Hardcastle) are navigating waters of monogamy that neither of them feel comfortable in and Madge (Celia Imrie) has not one but two marriage offers on the table all while Sonny and Sunaina (Tina Desai) are planning their wedding day. However all begins to unravel when a new resident Guy Chambers (Richard Gere) finds a muse for his novel in Sonny’s mother (Lilete Dubey) and Sonny’s plans for expansion get derailed by an old friend in town for the wedding as Sonny feels like he has been betrayed by those closest to him. With the big day fast approaching it is up to the stalwart Muriel to keep everything and everyone on the rails for a wedding and expansion day that none of them will ever forget.
Hard to believe that the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the Godfather Part II can now be spoken in the same breath as sequels that have surpassed their original, all be it for two very different reasons.
With both director John Madden and screenwriter Ol Parker returning for the second go around, the characters were already established and we got to enjoy these people having their adventures while they make the most of their second lease on life while working and living down in India. There was no wasted breathe, as they all got right down to business. The writing was crisp and allowed for some more emotional layers to develop between all the characters and it works in a natural and organic way and never feels forced or hokey. Madden shoots it all with an incredibly lush brush stroke as all these actors and actress’ who are pushing well into their senior years have quite frankly never looked better.
While the story in the first one had more of a bent towards the relationship between Judi Dench and Bill Nighy, the dynamic between Dev Patel and Maggie Smith has grown by leaps and bounds as it truly carries the film. Patel and Smith play off of each other remarkably well and we get glimpses of what not only what the hotel means to them, but what they mean to each other. Judi Dench and Bill Nighy play the awkward romance game well enough and have great awkward yet adorable chemistry with one another. Ronald Pickup & Diana Hardcastle are good comedic fun right along with Celia Imrie while Richard Gere adds a fresh wrinkle to the proceedings and never at once feels out of place as even though his motives aren’t always 100% he plays up the awe of his surroundings extraordinarily well.
The cynicism that anyone would approach the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is understandably natural, but it all played out as such a fun and entertaining romp that over thinking it all would just be a waste of time. The fun that everyone is having is just infectious and Maggie Smith further cements her status as a global treasure as she can make English and snarky one hell of a lot of fun.
The picture and sound quality on the BD are first rate as expected and the special features include 6 behind the scenes featurettes and a photo gallery.