Lightning caught in a bottle does not strike twice.
Cliché though that phrase may be, it’s still better than most of the mangled English sayings that are so plentiful in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, they quickly become more annoying than adorable.
Both meanings of the film’s title are painfully accurate. The main storyline is about Sonny’s (Dev Patel) attempt to expand the titular hotel into a mini-chain. Unfortunately, it’s a pale shadow of the first film, coming across as a desperate attempt to make its surprise success pay additional dividends.
Most of the original cast (except for Tom Wilkinson) is back again, still living and loving in the Jaipur, India hotel that’s become a retirement home for Brits who can’t afford to live in Downton Abbey. And some of them are still working.
The sequel is built around Sonny’s impending wedding to Sunaina (Tina Desai). But new complications are found for all of the major characters, mostly involving jealousy and suspicion.
Dame Judi Dench is still waiting for Bill Nighy to get his divorce from Penelope Wilton. Celia Imrie has two or three suitors to choose from. Dame Maggie Smith keeps threatening to die after each acerbic remark.
Among the new faces are Richard Gere (it’s shocking to find him more or less fitting in perfectly with the old crowd) and Tamsin Greig (who’s much better in Showtime’s Episodes).
The first Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a complete (and well-told) story in and of itself. The second can hardly be “bad” with such an amazing cast, but it still feels like a money-grubbing victory lap. –Steve Warren
RATING: Rated PG for some language and suggestive comments
DIRECTED BY: John Madden
WRITTEN BY: Ol Parker
MAIN CAST: Judy Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Richard Gere
STUDIO: Fox Searchlight Pictures