The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015)
  • Time: 122 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama
  • Director: John Madden
  • Cast: Judi Dench, Richard Gere, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy


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.


  • John Madden’s 2012 film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel proved to be a funny, surprisingly honest look at the foils of old age, with a strong cast of veteran British actors, and now the sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has come along with a continuation of the story.

    After the success of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Sonny (Dev Patel) looks to expand with a second. Muriel (Maggie Smith) accompanies him to a meeting that could help him secure funding for the new premises, and they agree that she’ll do the talking. Back at the hotel, Evelyn (Judi Dench) is considering a career opportunity, whilst Douglas (Bill Nighy) continues his attempts to woo her. After a late night out, Norman (Ronald Pickup) runs into some trouble when he thinks that he’s accidentally put a hit out on his girlfriend Carol (Diana Hardcastle), and the hotel welcomes two new guests, Lavinia (Tamsin Grieg) and the mysterious Guy Chambers (Richard Gere).

    Though not all goes to plan. Whilst Sonny is juggling the potential new deal, his upcoming wedding and the possibility that Guy is an inspector, an old acquaintance Kushal (Shazard Latif) purchases the new hotel. Then Douglas’ ex, the insufferable Jean (Penelope Wilton) arrives.

    The writing in the first film was better than this second outing, and whilst its numerous twisting narratives, love-triangles and vast array of Marigold residents are all entertaining, it’s missing the volume of humour that was so delightful in the first. The additional characters are well-rounded, and I’m sure that those who find Richard Gere charming will enjoy him here, but they don’t really bring anything new to the plot that wasn’t already there, grappling with old age, the apparently relaxing, party nature of the Indian lifestyle, etc.

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  • They are all back and they are just as entertaining. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is an example of a sequel that is almost as good as the original and that means it’s better than most of the dreck out there that isn’t a sequel.
    Screenwriter Ol Parker has kept the characters clean and clear. Some of this, obviously, has to do with the actors playing those characters but, without a decent script for them to function in, it would not have worked. Parker leads you down several roads that you’re certain you know where they’re going and sometimes they do but sometimes they don’t. That keeps it fresh and fun to watch. Director John Madden keeps all of it in order even if it seems as if it might be confusing. India is a confusing place at times. It is the actors, however, that make it.

    Dev Patel plays Sonny and he has shown us that he can act and can act well by not allowing the various characters that he has played in recent years (like Neal on The Newsroom, for example) to bleed into any of the other characters. And here again Parker has done a great job keeping Sonny’s philosophical saying as twisted as can be but true. Maggie Smith is the irascible Mrs. Donnelly who shows us she has a heart. Judy Dench’s Evelyn, and Bill Nighy’s Douglas, are still dancing around each other for fear they will be hurt again. Celia Imrie and Diana Hardcastle aren’t used well, but they don’t play it cheap at any time. David Strathaim is Ty Burley, a wrench thrown into the works even though we only see him briefly . Penelope Wilton is another wrench and she’s just as much of one as she was in the first movie. Finally, there’s Richard Gere who doesn’t need to do much but throws the whole place into a tizzy.

    This movie is easily worth 4 white horses out of 4. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is funny and emotional in all the right places. It is one of the few sequels that almost matches the original.

  • What was originally a malapropism ends the film and summarizes its theme: “There is no present like time.”
    Our one great present is time, the time we have, life. In their various solitudes and couplings and triangles all the characters here resolve to make the most of their remaining time. Living fully in the present drinks life to the lees (Tennyson).
    All the first film’s senior citizens are back, with a couple of new ones to shake things up: David Strathairn for Maggie Smith and Richard Gere for hotel manager Sonny’s mother. The main plot involves Sonny trying to attract US investment to add another hotel to his “chain” (making it two links) that caters to elderly have-nots trying to finish their days in style.
    The film’s formal structure is built around Sonny’s marriage. His commercial union threatens to make his romantic one secondary — but he recovers his balance and orchestrates both at the end.
    One recurring issue is wouldbe lovers’ fear. The Judi Dench and Bill Nighy characters are almost stymied by his shyness. His potential as a lover is like his public speaking—he can’t do it without an outside feed, which she manages to exploit. Ronald Pickup and his partner have to overcome her fear of monogamy. Penelope Wilton pretends to a romance she doesn’t yet have — to give her the confidence to initiate another one. But she’s afraid to approach her Ex without the pretence of one. Celie Imre’s character is the most courageous, switching between two elderly Indian men before settling on the more attractive — but lower class — driver. Nor is fear the preserve of the old. Sonny almost runs his engagement aground with his jealousy of a successful friend.
    The spectacular wedding at the end not only seals both the romantic and business plots. It infuses the film with a spectacular celebration of life, colour and energy. The dance combines traditional and contemporary movements. All the fogeys join in. They’ll get the most of their present, time. That point is poignantly emphasized by a late scene which flirts with a principal’s death but pulls back. For now.
    Come to think of it, isn’t that what a sequel essentially is? A second gift of the time that seemed to have been irredeemably spent in the first film. As characters can have as many beginnings as their time allows, a film can have as many sequels … as their audience attends

  • (Rating: ☆☆ out of 4)

    This film is not recommended.

    In brief: A dull sequel that is essentially a cut-and-paste job of its original 2012 predecessor.

    GRADE: C+

    The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is truth in advertising; It is second best. Compared to its original source, this film lacks any spark of originality or joy. Instead the filmmakers follow its successful tried-and-true formula by hiring its wonderful British cast of thespians once again, bringing in the same team of talent behind the camera as well (screenwriter Ol Parker and director John Madden), and playing up the same colorful Indian locations and elder problems. Nostalgia reigns foremost and there is never much excitement or emotional engagement as there was in the first film. While this sequel still entertains, it remains weary and fatigued like its aged travelers. What was once wry and droll is now dry and dull.

    The film still amuses, mostly due the actors who inhabit those likable characters as they reconvene at the hotel. Enter some new characters and unforeseen problems. Sonny (Dev Patel, overacting, overdoing the comic shtick, and absolutely annoying this time around) and Mrs. Donnelly (a typecast Maggie Smith, again bringing some class to her condescending role) want to expand The Best Marigold Hotel and need corporate financing to do so. This brings some new residents into the scheme of things: Lavania (Tamsin Greig), a mysterious visitor, and Guy (Richard Gere), a possible hotel inspector, but definite love interest to Sonny’s mother, Mrs. Kapoor (Lillete Dubey).

    Set against the colorful trappings of India, the film wants the moviegoers to settle in and come home “again”. But it only disproves that adage with its strained mishandling of its characters and their problems. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is well-crafted but there are just too many underdeveloped subplots involving the various hotel guests and their romantic escapades that range from the downright silly to somewhat poignant. These stories are handled in such a forgettable slipshod manner, never building any real tension or interest.

    There is not much to recommend, except a fine cast lead by Judi Dench and Bill Nighy and a concluding Bollywood number that has energy and style. The film is trivial in pursuit of a decent plot and rather lazy inert filmmaking that relies so much on the prior film’s success as a come-on to its older target audience who should be disappointed with this installment.

    The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel left me wanting better room service. It still was a diverting trifle but, this time around, the accommodations were less than stellar and the trip was far from memorable. GRADE: C+

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  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was an unexpected hit when it was released in 2012 due to its tapping into the greying demographic so often overlooked by Hollywood. As such, it should come as no surprise that the gang is reassembled for the straightforwardly titled The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

    The film opens in San Diego where the hotel’s enthusiastic co-owner and manager Sonny (Dev Patel) and business partner and hotel resident Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) have come to meet with magnate Ty Burley (David Strathairn). The Marigold Hotel has become such a success that it’s all but fully occupied, and Sonny and Muriel are looking to Burley to invest in their expansion plan. Burley agrees to consider their proposal, but his final decision hinges on the findings of an undercover hotel inspector his company will send to their establishment.

    Expansion is not the only thing on Sonny’s mind. There is the matter of his upcoming wedding to Sunaina (Tena Desai), who is more than a little miffed that her soon-to-be husband is more focused on hotel business than on learning their wedding dance. The presence of smoothly handsome and well-liked Kushal (Shazad Latif) puts a scare in Sonny but not enough as Sonny is busy bending over backwards to impress American walk-in guest Guy Chambers (Richard Gere), whom Sonny assumes to be Burley’s secret inspector.

    Meanwhile, Evelyn (Judi Dench) and Douglas (Bill Nighy) are still tiptoeing around the subject of romance though they are destined to be together. Playboy Norman (Ronald Pickup) seems to have found a woman (Diana Hardcastle) for whom he is seriously considering monogamy, but he may have accidentally put a hit out on her. Madge (Celia Imrie) is torn between two lovers, though that hardly prevents her from harmlessly flirting with Chambers who, much to Sonny’s consternation, is very much interested in getting to know his mother Mrs. Kapoor (Lillete Dubey).

    Returning screenwriter Ol Parker certainly stuffs the film with numerous narrative strands, though the film doesn’t buckle under the weight of all the plot contrivances. Mainly because, for all intents and purposes, all that is required of Parker and director John Madden is to build a solid structure around their stars. The pleasure of the first film was in seeing all of these great British performers together. That pleasure was magnified because of the underlying reality that, vital as Dench and company may be in their seventies and eighties, there may be fewer and fewer opportunities to see them all grace the screen much less share the screen with one another.

    With an eye on franchise continuation, the filmmakers have solidified Sonny’s role as lynchpin. It is his hotel, of course, that allows all of these characters to gather together. New faces can be mixed in with the old, and these new faces will bring with them new stories to be told. In fact, one can even see the franchise flourishing as a television series, following in the footsteps of Arthur Hailey’s Hotel, which ran for five seasons in the early Eighties.

    For now, there is no time like the present and, as is said in the film, no present like time. So let us bask in the affection that Dench, Smith, Nighy, and the rest seem to genuinely have for one another. Let us enjoy the venerable Maggie Smith dispense zingers like, “Just because I’m looking at you when you talk, don’t think I’m interested. Or eve listening.” Let us enjoy the wonderful Bill Nighy mumble and fumble while the delightful Penelope Wilton indulges her evil side. Let us be charmed by the hesitant dance between silver fox Richard Gere and the no-nonsense Lillete Dubey. Let us be wholly entertained by the unabashedly joyful dance number that has nearly all of the performers dusting off their dance moves.

    The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel may be a trifle, but it’s warm and comforting and filled with fantastic people. Sometimes that is all one can ask for.

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