Check-in Again for 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' [REVIEW]

The sequel to the 2012 film boasts a returning all-star cast and carries an uplifiting message. 

Posted in , Feb 27, 2015

Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The words “dream cast” are tossed around quite a bit in Hollywood, but rarely does an ensemble boast the sheer talent and years of experience that The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel did when it premiered back in 2012. The success of that film relied as much on its casting sheet – which touted the likes of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson – as it did on its age -specific storyline, one that followed a group of senior citizens relocating across the globe to live out their days at what was supposed to have been a swanky Indian resort.

While the first film centered on new beginnings, deriving humor from its characters’ ill-informed decisions and inability to live in the lap of luxury during their “golden years,” the ending featured the happily-ever-after we love to see in feel-good films. But that was only the beginning.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel picks up where the first film left off, except, instead of resigning themselves to blissful retirement living, the residents of the Marigold find themselves juggling new careers, drama-filled love lives and facing life-altering decisions. While Dame Dench narrated the first film, Smith takes over those duties in the sequel.

Full of witty one-liners and sage advice, the film focuses on Smith's character's view of life at the hotel and her efforts to help Marigold Hotel owner Sonny (Dev Patel) in expanding his business. And if Smith is the film’s rock, Patel is its funny bone. Boisterous, energetic and able to spit out his lines faster than the audience can swallow them, Patel proves comedy is his forte as his character tries to balance his ambitious prospects with the planning of his wedding and the management of the hotel’s senior citizens.

While each character is given tiny bits of their own story arc --Dench has been offered a new job and a second chance at love, though she struggles with the acceptance of both; Nighy continues to deal with his ex-wife while attempting to woo a fellow resident; and Richard Gere, everyone’s favorite silver fox, slips in at the beginning of the film to serve as a love interest for Sonny’s mother and a plausible thwarter of the hotel’s overall plans of expansion-- this sequel proves that having an overabundance of talent presents its own set of unique challenges. Because Dench, Smith or anyone in the cast could easily carry an entire movie on their own, it’s hard to divvy up the proper screen time amongst them and we’re often left feeling there could and should be more to each character’s journey.

Still, the film is chock full of humor and liveliness, which makes nearly every scene as enjoyable to watch as it must’ve been to film. There’s a distinctive feel you get when seeing Smith issue off-the-cuff comebacks to her fellow residents or Patel fearlessly tackle the movie’s big Bollywood-themed dance number. These actors clearly had fun making this movie which means the audience can’t help but have fun watching it.

Ultimately, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel achieves what it sets out to do; deliver an uplifting and inspirational view of getting older. The film leaves the viewer feeling hopeful that a chance to dream again, a chance to love again and a chance to live again are possible. 

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