Kyle J. Steenblik

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is Terminally Charming

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4 stars out of 5The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Directed by: John Madden
Written by: Ol Parker
the second best exotic marigold hotel advance screening
Based on: These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach
Starring: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, Diana Hardcastle, Tamsin Greig, Tena Desae, Dev Patel, Lillete Dubey, David Strathairn and Richard Gere.
Running time: 122 minutes
Rated PG for some language and suggestive comments

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but it stands on its own beautifully.  In fact, I didn’t know it was a sequel until I sat down to write this review.  I am seeking out the first film, because if it is half as enjoyable as its sequel it will be a worthwhile expense, but that is beside the point.  The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a perfectly fine film without the aid of its predecessor.  It was stunningly disarming, witty and snappy, and thoroughly charming, so much so, that I did not mind the cluttered and underdeveloped stories.  The exceptional ensemble cast made the two-hour film fly by, it was all over far too quickly.  I am honestly not exaggerating there, I could have sat through another two hours, it would have given them enough time to fully develop and resolve all the different storylines.  Those are my only serious complaints, this film is not long enough, and the storylines are underdeveloped.  I wish I could say that is only a minor complaint, but it kept this movie from being a profound and great film, but do not worry, it is still enormously entertaining.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the expansionist dream of Sonny (Dev Patel), and it’s making more claims on his time than he has available, considering his imminent marriage to the love of his life, Sunaina (Tina Desai). Sonny has his eye on a promising property now that his first venture, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful, has only a single remaining vacancy – posing a rooming predicament for fresh arrivals Guy (Richard Gere) and Lavinia (Tamsin Greig). Evelyn and Douglas (Judi Dench and Bill Nighy) have now joined the Jaipur workforce, and are wondering where their regular dates for Chilla pancakes will lead, while Norman and Carol (Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) are negotiating the tricky waters of an exclusive relationship, as Madge (Celia Imrie) juggles two eligible and very wealthy suitors. Perhaps the only one who may know the answers is newly installed co-manager of the hotel, Muriel (Maggie Smith), the keeper of everyone’s secrets. As the demands of a traditional Indian wedding threaten to engulf them all, an unexpected way forward presents itself.

The terrific and dynamic ensemble cast really makes this film, both individually and the way they play off each other.  It is almost as if you were watching a film where three quarters of the cast were seasoned veteran actors.  It is quite possible that this cast could make a film about going to the market to buy bread captivating and hilarious.  The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is effortlessly hilarious.  It is much funnier than most comedies, which simply try so hard they strain the joke and wind up requiring medical attention.  However, as much as I loved this film, it is not without flaws, it is very British, and will therefore alienate a portion of the American audience, and that is all right, we don’t all need to share the same sense of humor.  If you are one that does not enjoy a dry joke about tea, this may not be the film for you.  This film also packs more sub-plots and storylines in than teabags in a teashop.  The natural consequence is that the introduction, development and resolution for each of these can fit in the space of ten to fifteen minutes.  In the end I was left wanting more, fortunately, I now know there is another movie, and I can spend two more hours at the Best Exotic Marigold.



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