It’s hard to look at a movie like The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, as anything but an advertisement brought to you by the Department of Indian Tourism. Come to India in your twilight years, a land of rich culture, parties, make friends, and don’t forget to spend all of your money! And even still, it’s hard for this movie to not get under your skin in the nicest possible way. The cast is full of charming, friendly faces, the plot is breezy, and every location tends to scream out “Look at me! Don’t you want to see me in real life? Plan your trip now!” This movie works on every conceptual level it intended to. What that means for you, as the viewer? If you like these kinds of movies, that effectively work as travel brochures with a story tacked on, yeah this comes with a full recommendation.
With nearly every room of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel filled, Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire, The Newsroom) has reached out to foreign investors so he can build another hotel. Get it? It’s not the “Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” it’s the ” Second comma, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” Evelyn (Judi Dench, M from James Bond) has been offered a full time job with a textiles firm, straining her relationship with Douglas (Bill Nighy, not the Science Guy) as he in turn reconnects with his family. Meanwhile, Norman (Ronald Pickup) may have ordered a hit on his wife, while Madge needs to decide between the two wealthy suitors she has at her beck and call. All this while Sonny prepares for his wedding to Sunaina. Thanks to rounding out the cast with a healthy amount of British acting royalty, what might seem to be a fairly tepid story is elevated into something more significant.
If there’s something positive to say about this movie it’s the overwhelming positive and optimistic outlook it has on the senior years. If there’s something to say about its faults it is that this movie will not shut up about how old its actors are. But then, that’s part of the whole retirement tourism thing; “You’re not getting any younger, time’s almost up, death is waiting just beyond the corner, so meet your maker in INDIA!” And since this is a sequel, the cast has expanded with the welcome addition of Richard Gere as a new guest at the The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a novelist Sonny believes to be a secret investigator for the foreign investors.
The mechanics of this story are set squarely in the realms of romantic comedies, where your handsome/pretty lead actor/actress can just be substituted for some of accelerated age. Which means that there is a very youthful approach to how these characters interact with one another. It’s a very human approach, if only because there aren’t many movies that approach even the idea that people don’t stop talking about the troubles in their relationships and sex just because they got older. As it all plays against the throes of wedding turmoil, there’s a nice parallel in the idea that the struggle for happiness in a crazy world never truly ends.
Very strong cast, beautiful locations, and simple story, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is worthy of recommendation for a warm night in from the Winter that’s finally coming.
Check out The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on HBO this Saturday, January 2nd at 8 o’clock!