Editor’s Notes: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is out on Blu-ray and DVD July 14th.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opens not in India, where The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was set, but in the New York City board room of a corporation that finances retirement properties. Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel), the enthusiastic manager of the original hotel, and Mrs. Donnelly (Maggie Smith), the hotel’s co-manager, are there to make a pitch for funding. While Sonny is extremely nervous since the stakes are high, Mrs. Donnelly calmly delivers an acerbic tirade against what Americans call tea. She immediately makes clear the board of directors are up against more than they bargained for.
It’s fun to re-visit these characters, share their hopes, and enjoy their embrace of life.
This sequel to the surprise 2011 hit reassembles the original cast and we see how the characters’ lives in India are progressing. New to the cast is Richard Gere, whose character arrives at the hotel claiming to be a writer. Sonny, however, immediately suspects he’s an inspector who’s been sent from New York to determine whether to approve a loan for expansion. Also new is Lavinia Beach (Tamsin Grieg of TV’s Episodes), who’s checking out the hotel as a possible home for her mother.
Much is happening at the hotel. Sonny is getting ready for his wedding to Sunaina (Tina Desai) but fears that Kushal (Shazad Latif) is trying to steal her away from him. Mrs. Hardcastle (Celia Imre) is juggling the attentions of two Indian millionaire suitors. Evelyn Greenslade (Judi Dench) has been offered a job as buyer for a local company while Douglas Ainslie (Bill Nighy) is trying to find the courage to tell Evelyn how much she means to him. Guy Chambers (Gere) is attracted to Sonny’s widowed mother (Lillete Dubey), who is suspicious of his motives. Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) suspects that Carol (Diana Hardcastle) is having an affair.
Maggie Smith has a much bigger role than in the original, making the most of her unique ability to deliver one-liners with the precision of a whip striking a mosquito on a person’s cheek with no collateral damage.
This is certainly a feel-good movie, with heart and texture. It’s sentimental, yet so well acted that we immediately surrender to its charm.
Director John Madden very smoothly interweaves the story lines so that the movie never seems cluttered. It’s fun to re-visit these characters, share their hopes, and enjoy their embrace of life. This is certainly a feel-good movie, with heart and texture. It’s sentimental, yet so well acted that we immediately surrender to its charm.
Sequels often pale in comparison to originals. Happily, The Second best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the exception. It is richer, funnier, more heartfelt, and ultimately more satisfying than its predecessor. Since we already know the characters, writer Ol Parker sweeps us up immediately into the plot lines. It’s not even necessary to have seen the first picture. There are enough dialogue, revealing expressions, and action to make perfectly clear what each of these characters is all about.
Dev Patel brings youthful energy to the role of the thoughtful hotel manager. From his morning attendance calls to make sure no one has died during the night to his frazzled attempts to learn a difficult dance for his wedding to his purposeful mistreatment of a guest, Mr. Patel always succeeds in eliciting a smile. As he dutifully cares for his guests, speaking in overly florid language, Patel’s Sonny goes through life at 78 rpm when the world around him is set at 33.
The movie features several wedding rehearsals, parties and the wedding itself, which not only add color but get everyone in the cast together. Rated PG, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, despite its cumbersome title, is first-rate entertainment.
Bonus features on the Blu-ray release include the featurettes “Filming in India,” ”Returning to the Marigold Hotel,” “The Marigold Wedding,” and “Blossoming Relationships.” There is also a photo gallery.