July 17, 2015


Starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Tina Desai, Dev Patel, Lillete Dubey, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Richard Gere. Directed by John Madden. (2015, 123 min).

These kinds of movies aren't usually my thing. They're my wife's thing...low-key, unassuming dramedies filmed in exotic locations that are pretty to look at. I’m generally a die-hard Die Hard guy, so whenever she beats me to the remote so she can watch Under the Tuscan Sun for the umpteenth time, that's my queue to retreat to another room and engage more manly endeavors (like playing Mario Kart with my daughters).

Still, this might actually make me the perfect guy to review films like The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, because the best movies of any genre manage to appeal to those who normally don‘t seek out such entertainment. After all, when I truck-out all three Godfather films every summer, my wife gets helplessly sucked into them if she happens to be in the room, even though she still professes to hate gangster movies.

That being said, I suppose the best praise I can give The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is it made me want to watch the first one (which I haven't seen and features most of the same cast). Still, one doesn’t necessarily need to have seen the original to get into the story and its vibrant characters. The basic plot centers around Sonny Kapoor’s struggle to get a second Marigold hotel off the ground in India. However, what truly dominates the movie are the numerous ongoing side stories involving the interpersonal relationships of characters whose lives are influenced by, not only others, but the environment where they’ve chosen to spend their sunset years.

"Back off, lady...my bike."

Despite this rudimentary synopsis, this is a consistently entertaining film...well-written, unpredictable, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny and occasionally heartwarming without ever lapsing into heavy-handed sentimentality. The cast is amazing, especially Judi Dench and Bill Nighy as two lonely people cynically unsure if they can take that last step to committing to each other.

Even though I haven’t yet seen the first film, it’s safe to say those who have will find more to love here (with a Richard Gere bonus). For everyone else, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is one of those sequels which will likely make you want to check out what you’ve been missing.


  • SEVERAL SHORT FEATURETTES: "Story"; "Cast"; "Returning to the Marigold Hotel"; "Filming in India"; "Blossoming Relationships"; "The Marigold Wedding" (all of which are entertaining, but no more than a few minutes long each and not particularly comprehensive) 
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