Cast: Dev Patel, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Richard Gere, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, David Strathairn, Tamsin Greig, Tina Desai, Lillete Dubey, Diana Hardcastle, Ronald Pickup.
Running Time: 122 minutes
Synopsis: Sonny (Patel) looks to expand his business by trying to lock down a second site for another hotel, while also planning his wedding. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel once again traverse the world of love in their advanced years.
There are some films that are geared towards specific demographics. It doesn’t mean others can’t enjoy said film, it just means that they have been manufactured with a clear and defined selling point. Such films can be stale and bland, but when they are aimed at a smaller demographic not usually catered for, then it’s kind of hard to begrudge their existence. THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is one such film as it clearly aims for an older clientele, much like the characters in the film.
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL was unashamedly feel good cinema, and the sequel follows directly in such footsteps. With a few months having passed we find ourselves in the run-up to Sonny’s (Patel) wedding. However, as this is a romantic comedy we need conflicts to suggest that maybe things won’t work out so well. Enter a plot that involves the expansion of the hotel by taking on a new site. The dealings of course always seem to interfere with marriage preparations, causing both strife for the characters and humour for us. With Patel as the main focus, but only just giving that focus is not the film’s strong point, he certainly has a lot to do. His character is a wonderful comedic creation, but one probably more suited to a bit part. His positivity and naivety soon makes way for plain stupidity and belligerence at times, so the film should count itself lucky to have somebody as likeable and charming as Patel.
With this wedding as the centre for this convoluted universe of pensioners, the more advanced in years members of the cast are reduced to enjoyable sub-plots. Many of these, unfortunately, seem forced, and you have to wonder whether the writers or director wished they could cut certain characters. When Norman (Pickup) unwittingly calls for a hit on his girlfriend, we are left with quick scenes of him following her around and trying to protect her. It feels like this has been taken from another plot, meanwhile Nighy and Imrie are left with the remnants of the last film, with both of their stories’ outcomes being very obvious. These are still moments of smiles and laughs, especially if you loved them in the original, but it also makes the pace of this film focused on retirement, a bit too fast at times.
Gere and Greig join the cast as two new additions to the hotel, each one perhaps holding a secret. Gere doesn’t do much other than smile and humour Patel’s character, but what a smile it is. He effortlessly waltzes through the rest of the established cast, making sure you aren’t missing Dench and Smith too much when they are off screen.
Packed to bursting with a strong ensemble cast, THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL at least gives everyone an equal share. It all looks gorgeous and is a delightful extension of the first film. This second effort is once again an inoffensive and warming film made to make you smile, which it does indeed. The jokes are mostly jibes from one character to another, which are never spiteful or cruel, but pithy and coy. Not all films need to push boundaries or try and excel in a specific area, so here we have a film that just wants to wrap you up with a nice and warm blanket. As quiet, full, and comforting as retirement should be.
[usr=3]THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is released in cinemas from 26th February.