Lately I’ve been very careful about the 2 movies I’ve seen in the theater to make sure I went at a time when the theater would be nearly empty because of my cough. This was true yesterday as I finally got to see The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. This is of course a sequel to the original Marigold Hotel in 2012 which introduced us to a whole bunch of great British actors who are finding a new lease on life at a hotel designed for seniors in India.
This amazing cast includes Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, Dev Patel and more. This sequel adds Richard Gere to the mix and he is one of the most attractive men over 60 I’ve ever seen. We also get a far too brief appearance from the great David Strathairn.
Basically the story is Maggie Smith’s Muriel Donnelly is now working with Dev Patel’s Sonny to run the hotel and they begin in America trying to court investors into financing a second venture. Maggie Smith is so great. Sometimes I wish we could clone her so that she could be in every movie. She turns what could be a very trite character into a real person I felt tied too.
She’s someone who has no children and yet she has found a place and people where she can literally grow old and leave an impact, be remembered. As someone who also has no children and is not married I hope I can be so lucky and find a place like the Marigold Hotel when I get older.
The rest of the movie is fairly simple. Sonny is getting married to the stunning Sunaina played by Tina Desai who is one of the most beautiful actresses I’ve ever seen in a movie. Gorgeous.
We also get a lovely little back and forth romance between Bill Nighy’s Douglas and Judi Dench’s Evelyn. It showed that making commitments to each other is not necessarily easier just because you are older. All the actors elevate the material and make it far more engaging than it has any right to be.
We also get to see Celia Imrie go between 2 suitors and get to know the chauffeur on the way. And Lillete Dubey is absolutely elegant and perfect as Dev Patel’s mother who has a relationship with Richard Gere (who can blame her).
I could totally see why you could tear this movie apart. Is it predictable? Yes. Is it full of tropes and contrivances? Yes. Is it travel porn and a completely ridiculous notion of India and growing old? I haven’t experienced either but I suspect, Yes.
Was I completely charmed by it? Yes.
Sometimes all a movie needs to do is get the right group of actors together, play characters I like, that I want to see happy and tell me a conventional story. Every last person in this movie I liked, I was rooting for. It’s such a contrast to a movie like The Judge which is equally contrived but full of characters I greatly disliked. Everyone was such a jerk in that movie that I turned it off.
There’s a place for the dark and brooding characters and stories but not in a light fluffy happy movie about people growing old. Not in a family drama like The Judge. Another example would be The Family Stone which gave me one unlikable character after another. It’s Christmas for goodness sakes, give me someone to root for!
So, I could see the Second Best Marigold Hotel not being your cup of tea. But if you like pleasant, breezy stories about good people finding happiness than it may be for you. It’s especially lovely to have a movie with so many older relationships and actors elevating material above the script.
As far as content it is pretty squeaky clean. There are relationships outside of marriage but nothing is really shown but that’s about it on the objectionable content scale.
It’s the kind of movie I will buy on blu-ray and pop in along with the original which I already own on a bad day when I need a pick me up. Nothing wrong with that!
Overall Grade- B Content Grade- A+