Directed by John Madden and having once again the powerful cast of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy among others, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a British comedy drama and a sequel to 2012’s very successful film. It is quite similar to its predecessor both in its strengths and its weaknesses.
It follows mostly Sonny’s attempt to open the second hotel in his line and his troubles with his girlfriend. This is why this story is weaker than the one from the original. The emphasis on him is a poor choice and it starts to get rather annoying later on mainly because of Dev Patel’s overly theatrical performance and an annoying, overloud character. And his story is highly typical, uninspired and never interesting. But others have a fairly interesting storyline. Evelyn’s business plans and relationship with Douglas and the appearance of his former wife are all interesting stuff. And Norman’s problems are once again hilarious, this time with his wife’s proclaimed polygamy. And Richard Gere’s character and relationship with Sonny’s mother has some charmingly romantic moments. But Muriel is once again the highlight here not only because of Maggie Smith’s acting, hilarious lines but also because of her warm moments, especially near the end. The film quite solidly explores the troubles of the elderly and the theme of time and its passage are wonderfully touched upon with endearing ending.
As in the original, the script is very clichéd and ordinary. But the characters are once again likable and very well developed. All of the characters have their moments, but Muriel steals the show naturally. She has many hilarious lines and it is especially funny how she immensely dislikes America. Those lines are funny little gems. And I think that although changed somewhat at the end of an earlier film, she still remained a bitter old woman which is great and very realistic. And it is wonderful from the filmmakers that they chose her to end the movie which was done on a high note.
The acting is superb across the board and as in the first ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, it is the movie’s standout aspect. Judi Dench is superb along with of course Bill Nighy. Dev Patel as mentioned before is rather annoying in his overacting, but other Indian actors all did a fine job. And of course I won’t talk about Maggie Smith more, I won’t repeat myself as I already stated that her character is the highlight and that she is marvelous in everything she does.
The humor is solid at times, but there was never enough of it. The film started off on a very good note and for a moment I thought it was going to be better than the first one because of great humor, but it quickly got worse thanks to that emphasis on Sonny, less humorous moments and more boring and typical storylines. The editing is very problematic because there is not a single reason why this movie needs the running time of two hours and there are because of that too many tedious and dragged parts, especially in the second act. But the directing is solid, the acting is top-notch and of course the scenery and costumes are exquisite and colorful. And the music is solid but that singing and dancing sequence at the wedding in the end definitely had to be reduced.