Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Movie Review #228: "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (2015)

Movie"The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"
Ticket Price: $12.50
Director: John Madden
Rating: PG
Running Time: 2 hours, 2 minutes
Image Source
Many months have passed since Muriel (Maggie Smith) has joined Sonny (Dev Patel) as co-manager of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and business has been good. They are now looking to expand to a second location and they are meeting with an American investor to get the capital needed for the new hotel. The head of the investment company, Ty Burley (David Strathairn), is interested in investing once he sends his inspector to India to look over their operation. Meanwhile, Sonny is getting ready for his wedding with Sunaina (Tina Desai), but when an old childhood friend shows up, his jealousy gets the best of him and causes unneeded stress, especially when two new guests, Lavinia (Tamsin Greig) and Guy (Richard Gere), check into the hotel, one of which could be Ty's undercover inspector. All the while, the rest of the guests carry on with their day-to-day lives of work, relaxation and romance in India. 

BigJ and I wondered why on earth "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" needed a sequel. It was a fine enough movie on its own, and since it was based on a book, we figured that was it, one and done. Then, we looked up how much it cost to make the original versus how much it made at the box offices; it cost $10 million to make and made over $130 million total. Insane right? Any movie with that big of a profit would almost certainly cause an entertainment studio to make a sequel no questions asked. While "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" is a fine movie, it lacks a lot of the same bang as the original. There is still a hefty amount of charm and wit from the characters played by the likes of Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and Ronald Pickup in the sequel, though there is a definite lack of the same effortless spark seen in the first. Whereas the original built its characters up through the mutual experience of getting old together as guests of the hotel, this film focuses much more on the romantic relationship between Sonny and his fiancé Sunaina. Obviously, the majority of the characters are comprised of people from the 'elderly' demographic, and while Sonny and Sunaina's budding romance is a big part of the original, it takes full-blown center stage here. Between their impending wedding, their working at the hotel together and Sonny's desire to branch out and include a second hotel under his wing, stress keeps building between them and when the focus isn't on any of the Marigold's guests, it's on this young couple. This film begins with Sonny as his normal self, but when the events of the expansion and the wedding compact themselves on top of him, his demeanor takes a turn for the worse. We're not sure if the writers are the same for both films, but they made several changes to Sonny's character throughout the course of this movie, ones we didn't care for. He goes from the sweet, starry-eyed dreamer that he was in the first film to someone who has become more business-centered, rampantly jealousy and blatantly rude, all of which are totally out of character for him.

Beyond Sonny and Sunaina, the lives of most of the other characters seem to be dropped by the wayside. Most are too glossed over and underdeveloped, focusing more on either the romantic or work aspects for each character rather than anything else. Maggie Smith's Muriel, now working for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, takes on the most dominant role outside of Sonny and Sunaina's. Her character goes through a transformation or two, but it is never truly disclosed other than, you guessed it, a gloss-over. Her character is the best part about the sequel. Though she was pretty darn fierce in the original, her frank saltiness gets bumped up ten-fold, as she is never afraid to tell it like it is. Judi Dench's Evelyn does get a great opportunity to begin working for company that buys and sells fabrics, but woven around this plot line is the will-they-or-won't-they romance between her and Bill Nighy's Douglas that never got resolved from the first film. We figured they would just be together by the sequel's start, but instead, filmmakers decided they wanted to make the audience guess for 2 hours about their true intentions for one another. And speaking of Douglas, he has landed a job as a tour guide at some of India's most culturally rich sites. With the help of a young friend, who feeds him his script through an earpiece, he seems like he truly belongs in India, with or without Evelyn by his side. Of course, it wouldn't be a *~dramedy~* without the return of his catty ex-wife Jean, played by Penelope Wilton, who has returned to India to see their daughter's speech on budding Internet businesses and, oh yeah, for a divorce, too. Ronald Pickup's Norman and Diana Hardcastle's Carol are still together, but several wrenches get thrown into their romance when things aren't made clear between them. I would have loved to see this entire story line scrapped in lieu of one that made Norman and Madge, played by the flirtatious Celia Imrie, get together. There is a moment in the sequel where I thought this is where filmmakers were headed, but alas, this is not the case. Richard Gere is a welcome addition to the Marigold franchise, finding himself taken with Sonny's mother, Mrs. Kapoor, played by Lillete Dubey. While this romance feels like a flimsy inclusion to simply expand the romances to every character possible, it isn't horrible. The themes of both growing old and reinventing yourself with age are still at play here, but they are less explored in the sequel. Instead, filmmakers erred on the side of love this time around.

This is not the worst sequel we've ever seen, but it's not the best, either. Chances are, if you enjoyed the first film, you will like the second as well. Though predictable and quite a bit longer than it needed to be, "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" almost makes me look forward to a third installment in this franchise as long as some changes are made and, well, if, of course, all of the actors involved can stay alive long enough to make a third.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 64%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Winter's Tale"

No comments:

Post a Comment