THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL | REVIEW

None of our favourite seniors has passed on and the THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL hasn’t enough spots left to accommodate the blue rinse India retirees, so Sonny and his expansionist dreams open THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL and the entire cast is back with the addition of the ageing but still gorgeous Buddhist Richard Gere. I was sad to miss this one and will be seeing it after it releases tomorrow Thursday 26th February in Australia thanks to 20th Century Fox Australia (it is rated PG and runs for 122mins). Might wait a week and take the parental units. For this review I would also like to introduce you to our new Salty Kernel, Kernel Blake Currall. He was actually a big follower of Salty on Facebook and Twitter and used to write movie reviews for CHUD. Please join me in welcoming him to the Salty Cob. Enjoy his fine first review……all the best…..JK.

 

THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL POSTER IMAGE
THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | POSTER IMAGE

 

BY BLAKE CURRALL

A surprise success at the box office back in 2012, THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL was a charming, no nonsense coming of age dramedy with a twist, that being that the characters all coming of age were pensioners. Due to that success, the inevitable sequel is here in the form of THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, with the all-star cast of UK acting royalty (‘The Dentured Avengers’ as I like to call them) all returning for another jaunt in their ramshackle Indian retirement hotel.

Following on about eight months from where we left the original film, we start with exuberant hotel proprietor & perpetual Energizer bunny Sonny (Dev Patel – SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, SKINS) looking to expand his hotel empire by heading to the US with racially challenged curmudgeon Muriel (Maggie Smith – HARRY POTTER) as his hotel manager/wing woman, pitching for funding from a retirement villa conglomerate.

Meanwhile back in Jaipur, the remaining guests of the Marigold are settling into their golden years in India with various forms of employment. Evelyn (Judy Dench – just a goddess, no movie needed) is a master barterer in the textile industry, Douglas (Bill Nighy – every British film for the last 20 years) has found joy in leading tours through the sights of Jaipur (with some shonky local assistance) and über-cougar Madge (Celia Imrie) and Viagra enthusiast Norman (Ronald Pickup) have somehow become managers of the exclusive ex-pat swingers club The Viceroy.

 

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THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | SONNY KAPOOR (DEV PATEL)

 

Mixed in with all these intertwining storylines is the approaching nuptials between Sonny and his long suffering fiancé, Sunaina (Tina Desai) that sends already manic Sonny into overdrive while pursuing his dream of purchasing a neighbouring hotel and dealing with the arrival of Sunaina’s brother’s handsome and successful friend, Kushal (Shazad Latif).

It’s a lot to take in and where the original film tried to spend equal time with each character as they adapted to their new lives in a foreign country and the culture clashes that this brings, the follow-up is more focused on the hijinks of Sonny as he tries to prove to everyone that he is indeed the business genius that he is in his own head. Starting the film with everyone happy and in a good place doesn’t really leave room for the main bunch of retirees to grow, so focusing on Sonny was probably a wise move from the filmmakers.

Although that’s not to say that conflict doesn’t arise, as part of the impending deal to expand his empire, the conglomerate Sonny is trying to obtain investment from hints that an undercover inspector will be sent to The Marigold to test its worth. Enter Lavinia (Tamsin Greig) a younger woman inspecting the hotel for her aging mother and Guy Chambers (Richard Gere – PRETTY WOMAN), a smooth talking American looking to write a novel in the sanctity of the hotel. His entrance makes knees weaker than osteoporosis and draws the attention of Sonny who believes him to be the mysterious inspector that holds his future in his hands. What follows is a Fawlty Towers-esque scenario with Sonny flat out ignoring Lavinia and kissing the feet of Guy as he tries to impress the would be hotel inspector. But is everything as it seems in Sonny’s head?

 

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THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MURIEL DONNELLY (MAGGIE SMITH)

 

Meanwhile, the “will they/wont they” relationship between Dench & Nighy (spoiler alert – they totally will…) from the first film continues here with plans of a trip away together to Mumbai and the introduction to Douglas’ tech entrepreneur daughter, Jasmine (Christy Meyer). Dench and Nighy shine in the screen time they share, such great actors bring a fun, nervous & emotional side to their relationship and you do feel that the film could always use more of them together.

The rest of the supporting cast honestly don’t have too much to do, with Norman inadvertently putting a drunken hit on his girlfriend and Madge trying desperately to choose between two wealthy suitors with whom she wants to decide if they want it to put a ring on it. With possibly the least amount of screen time but with the most emotional weight is Muriel, having softened on her comedic racist ways of the original, her character is the heart (and narrator) of the film, taking Sonny under her wing and trying to guide him to glory before her time runs out, which after a visit to the doctor in the films 2nd act, may or may not be too far away.

While all of this sounds heavy and emotionally draining, there are still plenty of lighter moments throughout the film which drew plenty of chuckles and a rousing Bollywood inspired dance number during the lavish wedding scenes at the end of the film which are sure to entertain. Though probably not as completely entertaining as the original, with perhaps a few too many rehashed ideas, this is an easy film to watch made possible by the excellent cast.

Not quite the best, but definitely The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

 

3 Pops