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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel | Dev Patel, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, Richard Gere, Tena Desae | Review

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4sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD Judy Thorburn

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4lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD


The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

In 2012, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, about a group of British seniors moving to a retirement hotel in Jaipur, India and starting a new life in their sunset years, was a surprise hit grossing over $137 million at the box office worldwide. If you liked the first movie, than you won't be disappointed, since the second, once again directed by John Madden (Mrs Brown, Shakespeare in Love, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin) working from a script by Ol Parker, delivers the same winning formula.

Other than Tom Wilkinson, whose character died in the last film, the fantastic ensemble cast including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith,  Bill Nighy,  Celia Imrie,  Penelope Wilton and Ronald Pickup, are all back.
The sequel begins in America as Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) and his assistant hotel manager, the crotchety but wise, old biddy, Muriel (Smith, who is given the best lines) are driving on Route 66 to San Diego to meet with wealthy investors so they can expand their hotel and buy another run down one and transform it into, you guessed it, the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the “elderly and beautiful”, since their first is filled up with guests that stay and don't check out. On the down side, Sonny is so consumed with getting the funds for the expansion that he has neglected plans for his upcoming wedding to the frustration of his beautiful fiancee Sunaina (Tena Desae). Adding fuel to the fire, Susiana's brother's best friend, handsome and rich Kushar (Shazad Latif), has returned to teach her dance routines for the wedding, causing the easily excitable Sonny to be filled with jealously and anger, especially when he learns Kushal is set on buying the same “Supreme Quality Hotel” Sonny wants to acquire.

Meanwhile back in Jaipur, the residents of the original hotel are engaged in their own personal affairs. Shy Douglas (Bill Nighy) spends his time working as a tour guide (depending on a youngster to tell him what to say through an earpiece) when not trying to woo the equally interested, but fearful, Evelyn (Judi Dench) who, at age of 79, has been offered a job as a buyer for a fabrics company, that would mean she would have to travel. Flirtatious Madge (Celia Imrie) is juggling two wealthy suitors and can't decide whom to marry, and Norman (Ronald Pickup) thinks he has accidentally put a hit out on his girlfriend Carol (Diana Hardcastle) whom he thinks has been unfaithful.

To complicate matters, a couple of new arrivals check into the hotel.  Lavinia (Tamsin Greig) says she is checking out the place for her mother, and a handsome, silver haired American, Guy Chambers (Richard Gere),  claims to be a writer working on a book about getting old, although Sonny is convinced that Guy is secretly an inspector sent by his potential investors, Evergreen, a California based hotel chain, to evaluate the property. Other than looking like a desperate attempt to match most of the players as a romantic pair, Guy's immediate love at first sight reaction when he sets his eyes on Sonny's lovely mom (Lillete Dubey) is hard to swallow, especially since the couple lack any chemistry.  Muriel remains the only single character, standing out as the heart and soul of this sequel, overseeing the events that unfold and offering up much needed “opinions” (“I don't do advice”, she says) to the other residents, in her own sardonic way.

Although there are several plot strands surrounding Sonny's nervous attempt to expand his hotel while planning for his upcoming wedding, nothing comes off as confusing.  In fact, it is a delightful, charming story, filled with gorgeous location settings and a poignant message about enjoying friendship, love and happiness before it is too late. Needless to say, much of the film's success can be attributed to the highly appealing, great British actors, who inject genuine depth and emotion to their characters. Of course, the requisite lively and enjoyable Bollywood dance in the finale where everyone joins in, is an added treat.

Simply put, even if you missed the original movie, ‘The Second Best Exotic Hotel’ certainly lives up to its name. As such, I am sure you will find this visit a worthwhile experience.


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