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Review: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

If one were to imagine the ideal cinematic situation, it would certainly involve a group of British seniors bitching at each other in England. Three years ago, this dream materialized in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The film gathered the likes of Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, and Celia Imrie, putting the group in a dilapidated New Delhi hotel run by an overenthusiastic Dev Patel. The surviving gang from the first film are back to open The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a romp that is just as exotic as its predecessor.

The film opens with Muriel Donnelly (Smith) and Sonny Kapoor (Patel) speeding down a highway in a convertible. Yes, that is Dame Maggie Smith in a convertible. The pair meets with the owners of the biggest retirement residence chain in the world, hoping to get an investment to open a second Marigold Hotel. After being served a cup of hot water with a teabag on the side, Mrs. Donnelly goes off on a brilliant rant on America’s inability to serve a proper cup of tea, which will remind viewers why exactly why the world loves Maggie Smith. Sonny and Mrs. Donnelly are told that an undercover inspector will come to the Marigold Hotel before the investors make their decision. We then return to India to catch up with the beloved residents. When Guy Chambers (Richard Gere) comes to stay at the hotel, Sonny is sure that he has found the inspector, and goes out of his way to make sure he it overly satisfied. It wouldn’t be a Marigold Hotel without a love story, and thankfully Evelyn (Dench) and Douglas (Nighy) are there to give us one. The film plays close attention to the unofficial couple and their struggle to fall in love again in there golden years. We also have the continuing love story of Sonny and his fiancé Sunaina, but we are all here for the seniors, so who cares?

For the most part, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is very similar to the first. Those who liked the original will be delighted, even though the film does not offer anything we have not seen before. Most importantly, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel shows us that films about seniors can be fun and engaging. Not all films about the seventy-five-plus crowd need to be about strokes and death. At eighty-years-old Judi Dench is as sexy as ever, and we can all be thankful that there are filmmakers willing to explore this side of the gifted actress. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel may be second best, but it is nonetheless a delightful and charming adventure.

[star v=4]

Matt Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman is a Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films and actresses over the age of 50; including but not limited to: Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, and Jacki Weaver.