Director: John Madden
Writer: Ol Parker
Cast: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, David Strathairn, Dev Patel, Penelope Wilton, Richard Gere, Tamsin Greig, Tina Desai
This sequel is exactly like its title: overstuffed, exhausting, confusing, and no longer cute or charming. The first film was a nice little movie about a bunch of people who no longer fit in back home in the UK, so they move to India to enjoy the rest of their years in an exotic locale that actually revitalizes them and stirs up emotions and actions long thought dormant. Apparently, this boring sequel forgot the point of the original film, because it never allows the audience to forget that these people are old and could die at any moment, because they are old, get it? Their hair is white, they are fragile, and they need a role call every morning to check that nobody croaked overnight.
Taking more of a central role Dev Patel’s character Sonny Kapoor has become stridently overbearing and his dream to be the best hotelier in India causes him to act with such horrific behavior towards guests and his fiancee (a thankless role for Tina Desai, who is better off on Sense8 where at least she can have more than one emotion) that any attempt the film makes to redeem him in the third act is moot – we hate him too much to care by that point. But Sonny’s enthusiasm and drive are needed for the very thin plot that controls this movie to move along at all, for an American investment company will be sending an anonymous reviewer to assess the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in order to decide if it is worth turning into a franchise.
Joining our already familiar cast of mature British thespians are Richard Gere and Tamsin Greig as the two new guests of the hotel, one of which must then be the said external reviewer. A comedy of errors ensues, but it’s low on laughs and high on unwanted cringe. With the exception of Maggie Smith, who is great as always and does the most even with the thinnest of provisions, everyone else seems to be phoning it in, especially Judi Dench and Bill Nighy who appear to be suffering each and every line they utter as a compulsory obligation. There really are no true reasons for this sequel to exist, other than a desire to capitalize on the success, and more so the hugely surprising draw, of the original film. The returns are extremely diminishing for the audience. Some beautiful scenery is a given, although the film is mostly confined indoors, making one wonder how much of the film was actually just filmed on a soundstage.
And because no Dev Patel film can end without a big Bollywood number…