Let’s face it. It might not be the coolest plot line around, but who doesn’t want to watch a group of old people plodding around India, falling in love and having new adventures? The sequel to the joyous coming-of-old-age story, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, sees all your favourite characters back in action, and a couple newbies thrown into the mix to stir things up. This time around, Sonny (Dev Patel) is looking to expand his now wildly successful hotel business. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is running smoothly with the help of Ms. Donnelly (Maggie Smith) and a host of loyal guests who, after their experiences in the first film, have come to settle in India. Evelyn (Judi Dench) and Douglas (Bill Nighy) are still tip-toeing around their feelings for one another, while Sonny’s fiance, Sunaina (Tina Desai), plans their extravagant wedding. Yes, Bollywood dance routines ensue.
But, there are new guests checking in, and with a hotel inspection nigh, Sonny suspects Guy (Richard Gere) to be the undercover inspector. Chaos, romance and adventure follows, in this journey that is, well to be quite honest, almost exactly the same as the first movie.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The first Marigold film was great: heartwarming, emotional and a total blast. But there’s just something a little less magical about a movie that you’ve already seen before. Many of the characters appear to be going through the same struggles, as a bumbling Sonny constantly makes mistakes but never gives up on his dream, while Evelyn and Douglas still can’t admit their feelings for one another. But what the film lacks in originality, it makes up for in vivacity – and have I mentioned the Bollywood dance routines?!
Director John Madden has definitely embraced more of the Bollywood style of film making in this sequel, which serves to inject even more life and colour into this already joyous franchise. Everything is just that little bit grander and a bit more over-the-top, but in the best way possible. The India that is depicted in this film is simply stunning; the sets are beautiful, the costumes are bright and intricate, and I can guarantee you’ll be wanting to book your flights by the end of the film.
The problem is that much of the film’s messages about growing old and following your heart, is delivered in the cheesiest, corniest way possible. It’s corn, smothered in cheese. If you thought the first film had some trite one-lines (who could forget Sonny’s cheery outlook that “everything will be all right in the end… so if it is not all right, then it’s not yet the end”), this second one really tries to out do itself. In saying this, there were also some smashing one liners that elicited outright bursts of laughter from the audience and are sure to keep you entertained, even through the last quarter of the film where the plot really starts to drag.
All in all, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is really just a less shiny version of its predecessor. Fans of the first film will be happy to see so many returning faces, and there’s no denying it will be a lot of fun, but the lack of originality in the plot made for a cliche story that we’ve all seen before. Props, however, to the Bollywood dance numbers!
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