By Gary Murray

Starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Dev Patel

Written by Ol Parker

Directed by John Madden

Running time 122 min

MPAA Rating PG

Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a surprise hit from 2011 and it made my ‘best of the year’ list.  The charming story of a group of senior citizens deciding to leave England for a new life in India struck a positive chord with movie patrons and cynical movie critics.  Today, all good films get a sequel and we now have The Second Exotic Marigold Hotel.

The film starts with owner Sonny (Dev Patel) and hotel manager Muriel (Maggie Smith) in a convertible on Route 66.  They are in LA in order to get financing for Sonny’s new idea, a Second Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Sonny has found that his guests have become permanent residents of his hotel and he has decided that permanent residents are a way to secure positive cash flow into a second venture.

Back at the hotel, most of the rooms are filled with guests from the first film.  We have couples living out their golden years and singles living lives of carefree sexual congress.  There is much flirting with the older Woodstock generation.

Some have to work even during retirement.  Evelyn (Judi Dench) has been working for a manufacturer who wants to start a permanent branch in India and make her their senior buyer.  This goes against her romantic intentions with Douglas (Bill Nighy) the still-married interest who charms tourists as a guide. 

Madge (Celia Imrie) has her hands full with two different Indian men who want to marry her.  She is carrying on passionate affairs with both men but neither knows of the others existence.           

Where the first film focused on the senior citizens, this is a film that has a larger focus on Sonny, played by Dev Patel.  He is getting married to his long-term love Sunaina (Tina Desai), but he is more obsessed in securing financing for his venture of a second hotel. 

The company is to send an undercover spy to evaluate the First Exotic Marigold Hotel.  Then enters Guy (Richard Gere).  The man claims to be a writer but Sonny believes he is the undercover spy.  Guy shows interest in Sonny’s widowed mother.

All of this plot threads lead to a conclusion that comes to a head at the wedding of Sonny and Sunaina.  By the end of the two hours, all are tied up in a nice wedding bow.  But there still enough fiction room for a 3rd Exotic Marigold Hotel somewhere in the future.

Maggie Smith delivers one-liners with a viper’s venom.  Time and time again, she is the icing on the cake of a scene, making the kind of comments we all wish we could make. 

Bill Nighy and Judi Dench are the unrequited lovers, two who give long, agonizing looks of heartbreak time and time again.  They want to be together but there are obstacles to being together.  The audience roots for them and wants them to achieve happiness.

Dev Patel carries much of the film and generates a large amount of the humor.  He is the bumbling Dad of the hotel who is a generation younger than his kids.  He works well with the stunning Tina Desai and they have a believable chemistry. 

The film is once again directed by John Madden.  He plays it smart and does little direction.  He just lets these seasoned actors do their jobs.  These are some of the most lauded and talented performers on the planet.  Just let them work their magic.

In the end, The Second Exotic Marigold Hotel is a charming work of cinematic fiction that pulls at the heart strings and delivers gut laugh after gut laugh.  It has everything one would expect from a sequel but it is also its own film.  One does not have to have seen The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to understand The Second Exotic Marigold Hotel.  It helps but is not required.

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