March 12, 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Grade: B –
Director: John Madden
Starring: Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Dev Patel, Bill Nighy, Richard Gere, Tin Sesai, Lillete Dubey, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Diana Hardcastle and David Strathairn
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 2 hr. 2 min.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel furthers this now-film series’ status as the The Expendables for the British acting troupe, now including Richard Gere for the randy sexagenarian set. It’s also their paid excuse for a return Indian getaway, except, like many repeat vacations, it doesn’t duplicate the same sense of charming surprise as the initial outing.

The core characters return to the long-term Jaipur resort. Evelyn and Douglas (Judi Dench and Bill Nighy) venture into the local workforce and their evolving romance with equal trepidation. Norman and Carol (Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) grapple with mutual, rather risible infidelity. Madge (Celia Imrie) is still juggling Indian suitors. Innkeeper Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) is preparing to marry Sunaina (Tina Desai). Meanwhile, Sonny and his irascible assistant Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith), in the midst of courting an American investor (David Strathairn) to realize their hopes of expansion, prepare for the arrival of a clandestine hotel inspector.

On cue, a suspicious stranger arrives named Guy Chambers (Gere), an American expat looking to complete his long-gestating novel. Guy finds literary and romantic inspiration with Sonny’s mother (Lillete Dubey), to her son’s consternation.

Contrived conflicts come and wane with rapidity, punctuated by pithy quips and charismatic inertia. Patel gets the elephant’s share of the excitable scenes, and Smith provides the emotional and comedic heart of the film. But the bulk of the cast amble through their paces, lending uninspired effort to the uninspired plot set amid an admittedly vibrant setting.

Capped, of course, by a wedding scene and Bollywood-style song-and-dance routine, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is lite viewing for a warm bath drawn on a rainy day. You won’t remember much about it, and you won’t rightly need to.

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