I quite enjoyed the first Marigold Hotel film, so I went to see the second in spite of the mediocre reviews it has received. With my expectations kept in check, I quite enjoyed the second film as well, though it is definitely a big step down from the first.
With most of the same actors, John Madden’s The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel continues the story of Sonny (played by Dev Patel) as he and Mrs. Donnelly (Maggie Smith) try to acquire a second hotel in Jaipur in the midst of Sonny’s wedding preparations. While Sonny was off in America, trying to secure finances, his fiancé, Sunaina (Tina Desai), was taking dancing lessons with a handsome friend who seems to have all the qualities Sonny lacks. Sonny’s subsequent jealousy is one of the central stories of the film, though Sonny is also stressed about other things, like a man (Guy Chambers, played by Richard Gere) who shows up one day without a reservation and whom Sonny believes to be a hotel inspector who could impact Sonny’s future. When Guy sets his sights on Sonny’s mother, panic ensues. Meanwhile, the residents of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are each involved in their own stories, involving romance, health issues, etc.
The biggest problem with The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is that none of its many small stories really get off the ground (i.e. none of them really captured my attention). The first film, in contrast, had many stories which captured my attention. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call this film boring, its plot was nothing more than a pleasant and amusing entertainment.
On the plus side, however, the cinematography was as gorgeous as it was in the first film, and I’m a sucker for gorgeous cinematography in exotic locations, especially at night. And then there’s the actors. It’s just so much fun to watch older masters like Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup and Celia Imrie working together. And even though the second film lacks the profundity of the first, it’s still a lot better than most of the romantic comedies out there.
So I am giving The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel ***. My mug is up.