Have you ever vacationed at an exotic hotel that you liked so much you wanted to go back and visit again? Or seen a movie with such lovable characters that you wanted to meet with them for a second time?
Well, “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” satisfies on both counts. It is a sequel to “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” a delightful 2012 film about seven British retirees who travel to India to take up residence in a hostelry that’s been a tad oversold to them — only to discover that it has charms of its own.
The great cast included Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Penelope Wilton — and of course Dev Patel as the hotel’s optimistic manager.
Directed by John Madden (“Shakespeare In Love”), the comedy was a surprise box office hit, grossing over $137 million worldwide. Not bad for a small movie produced on a $10 million budget.
And so we’re invited back in “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”
Here, we take up with our British retirees where the last film left off. Returning are Dench, Smith, Nighy, Imrie, Pickup, Wilton, and Patel. (Wilkinson’s character you’ll recall passed away in the first film.) To make up for the depletion, we get two newcomers in this one, Tamsin Geig and Richard Gere.
Since the hotel only has one open room, but two new visitors, the young Indian manager Sonny (Patel) races about trying to acquire another property. But with all the effort of running the hotel and his impending nuptials, he barely has any time left to pursue these expansionist dreams. Fortunately for him, one of the retirees (Smith) has agreed to co-manage the hotel — as well as everybody’s love life.
This time around the emphasis is more on Sonny’s adventures than the hotel guests’ travails, but that’s okay as long as we get to catch up with our old friends. Sonny’s mix-up with the building inspector and his efforts to find investors are funny enough, but the subplots involving the guests are more interesting.
In addition to having the same ensemble cast, this second film returns to the same exotic location.
Again standing in for the Marigold Hotel is Ravla Khempur, once the palace of a tribal chieftain. Located in the state of Rajasthan, these dilapidated ruins have what director John Madden calls “a magical quality and unmistakable charm.”
The cinematography shows it. As one moviegoer said, “They’ve turned up the saturation on Rajasthan, making it look even more colorful, even friendlier and definitely cleaner than it actually is.”
If you loved the first movie, you’re sure to love this one too. No matter what your age, I recommend that you check in at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly & Beautiful for a second time.