'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'
I can’t believe that the absolutely abysmal ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ made enough money to justify the production of a sequel. The elderly all-stars return for another round of mildly racist pandering and a free trip to India. The plot is garbage, the message questionable, and the entertainment value is approximately nil. If the filmmakers deserve credit for anything, it’s for somehow making a sequel even worse than the original, which didn’t seem possible.
The whole gang is back. Dev Patel’s racial stereotype/hotel owner is so thrilled by the mild success of his business that he’s decided to build a franchise with a crabby Maggie Smith as his business partner. He’s also getting married to Tina Desai, primarily so that the ceremony can give this nonsense something resembling a climax. Elsewhere, Bill Nighy and Judi Dench are continuing rounds of will they/won’t they in an attempt to manufacture narrative tension that never arrives. Celia Imrie juggles the affections of two men, but don’t worry, we never get to know them in any meaningful way, so you’ll never be concerned about how that story turns out. Then there’s Ronald Pickup, who thinks he accidentally hired a cab driver to kill his wife Diana Hardcastle. Why? Because those characters were in the last movie so they need to be in this one even if the filmmakers have no idea what to do with them. Finally, Richard Gere pops up as an author and possible hotel inspector to pad out the running time, while Tamsin Greig plays a woman far too young to stay in the hotel who couldn’t actually be the hotel inspector, right? Yep, misunderstandings are hilarious.
So yeah, it’s a bunch of swill.
As you might have guessed by now, the biggest problem in this movie filled with problems is that neither screenwriter Ol Parker nor director John Madden had a clue how to keep this story going. But they got the cast back and secured financing, so they had to make something. As a result, they threw together a bunch of crap up that kind of resembles a story. It’s hard to care about any of the plot threads competing for attention, which is probably a good thing because, if you were to think about them for three consecutive seconds, you’d be able to predict every story beat instantly. You’ll likely be too bored for your brain to function anyway, so that’s for the best.
The very particular brand of gentle British racism from the last flick hangs over every frame once more. This is a movie that teaches us that natives of India are capable of being quite successful and industrious provided that they accept the leadership of British folks who clearly know better. You know, because that thinking worked out historically.
Now, it should be said that watching Maggie Smith get crabby is an eternal pleasure, and Bill Nighy can’t help but score laughs no matter how horrendous the material he has to work with. So, with a cast this inherently lovable, there are moments that are possible to watch without gagging. However, those fleeting moments of quality acting are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of wasted talent contained in this placid two hours of light “entertainment.”
In particular, it’s tough to watch an actress of the caliber of Judi Dench struggle to give life to such a worthless character, and you can’t help but cringe through every second of Gere’s screen time. (It’s thoroughly embarrassing to see his career sink to being a background dancer in the climax of a sequel nobody wanted.) There’s really nothing about this tedious cash-grab to recommend in good conscience, yet that was also true of the slightly less painful previous entry in this unfortunate franchise and it was still a hit.
The good news is that you aren’t required to watch this pathetic excuse for a movie. Do yourself a favor and never subject yourself to it. In fact, I’d even recommend averting your eyes whenever you even see the poster.