Second Best Marigold Hotel Review

best-exotic-hotel-249911Lately 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.

The-Second-Best-Exotic-Marigold-Hotel-Cast-WallpapersThis 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.

BEST-EXOTIC-MARIGOLD-HOTELBasically 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.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015) - Maggie SmithShe’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.

exotic hotel3He is stressed trying to purchase a new hotel and be prepared for inspectors who Richard Gere is.

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.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold HotelI could have done with a little less of the silly plot device of a hitman mistakenly ordered between Ronald Pickup’s Norman and Diana Hardcastle’s Carol but the way it ended was sweet and lovely.

The-Second-Best-Exotic-Marigold-Hotel-5We 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).exotic hotel

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.

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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+

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Henry And Me Review

henry and meDo you like baseball?  More to the point- do you like the Yankees?  If the answer is no than Henry and Me may not be the film for you.  I wouldn’t say I’m a baseball fan but I don’t mind it on occasion and I appreciate baseball’s place in movie history.  I’d say of all the supports baseball has produced the best movies although Hoosiers and Hoop Dreams are tough to beat.

Baseball has such a nostalgia and history attached to it that it produces a wide spectrum of movies- everything from comedies like A League of Their Own and Major League to tender sentimental gems like Field of Dreams and Pride of the Yankees. Recently baseball has taken a big hit and lost some of its luster with steroid scandals and star players getting suspended but the history and connection to great American cities is perfect for storytelling.

The animated film Henry and Me taps into that nostalgia big time and produces a pretty sweet, sappy but pleasant movie.  Red Sox fans will hate it but I found it very appealing.  It is about a boy named Jack who is fighting cancer (another pretty sad animated movie for 2014).   He has started to get discouraged as he is sent to another surgery with IVs and surgeons all around him.

henry and me4Jack is a die hard Yankees fan and we see brief glimpses of his room covered in Yankee memorabilia   A nurse played by Cyndi Lauper gives Jack some medicine to knock him out and tells him he will have ‘great dreams’.

Next we see a man named Henry voiced by Richard Gere who has a magic Yankees pin that takes Jack on a train where at first he refuses to engage fearing he is not well enough.

henry and me 6Henry finally convinces Jack to believe in himself and the train stops in old Yankee stadium surrounded by corn.  Here Jack meets a young Babe Ruth who gives him some advice for facing trials.

henry and me7Then we get to a different version of Yankee park and Jack is put as pitcher for Mickey Mantle.  He must strike him out but he doesn’t believe he can do it.

henry and me5Then the story continues as Jack battles with the cancer and meets George Steinbrenner (voiced by his son Hank), Lefty Gomez (Luis Guzman) and Thurman Munson (Paul Simon).

henry and me 3Then there are a slew of former and currently living Yankees that do their own voice work including Reggie Jackson, Nick Swisher, Yogi Bearra, Hideki Matsui, Michael Kay and Joe Girardi to name a few (evidently they are now selling the film at Yankee’s concessions and I totally see why).  It was neat to see all these great ballplayers in animation and doing their own vocals!   And of course there is more to Henry than Jack first realizes.

It’s a short movie at only 68 minutes and it is pretty simple.  Just a kid who gets a chance to meet the Yankees and be inspired by those interactions. It’s corny and sentimental but I liked it.  The main point is to give hope to a kid with cancer and I teared up on a number of ocasions.

The hand drawn animation looks great.  I wasn’t as thrilled with the CG backgrounds which looked odd with the hand drawn pasted over it but I’ve definitely seen worse in 2014. I liked the Cyndi Lauper music as it seemed to fit the overall tone quite well.  Here’s one segment that is pretty emotional.

It is a bit of a downer for long sections with one segment actually sending Jack to Heaven to look around and see what it is like. He also gets frustrated and angry at his treatment which is understandable but tough to watch at the same time.

What can I say?  I enjoyed it. It’s kind of like Fox and the Hound but with baseball instead of pets.  Not a masterpiece but sweet and simple and easy to enjoy. henry and me 2If you like baseball and especially if you like the Yankees than it is the film for you.

Henry and Me would make a nice Sunday movie when you are looking for a very clean film with a nice inspirational message.  Like I said they even go to Heaven in it (but it is not a Christian film- more of a baseball heaven (phrase I never thought I would write)).

If any of you get a chance to see it let me know what you think.

Overall Grade- C+

Now I have seen all but 2 of the animation films submitted to the Academy for consideration.  The other 2, Cheatin and Giovanni’s Island are proving a challenge to find but doing my best.  Cheatin doesn’t get into American theaters until April so I may go-ahead and do my overview of the year in animation before seeing it. If there is anything I am missing let me know and if there is an animated television show you would like me to review put it in the comments.  I’ve heard great things about Gravity Falls and Over the Garden Wall but not sure where and how to watch them.  Let me know!