Visiting other cultures and immersing yourself is intended to help you broaden your horizons and relate to people in different situations. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was able to work off of this theme and allow the immensely talented actors and actresses in the cast to play with that (watching Maggie Smith grimace at anything is worth the price of admission). As they enter the unexpected sequel, it seems like much of the same from the cast and crew, but this time a wave of new problems allows the actors to work around new problems alongside new faces.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel finds the remaining residents eight months after the ending of the first film. Douglas (Bill Nighy) and Evelyn (Judi Dench) try to sort out the relationship that was blossoming at the end of the previous film, Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Madge (Celia Imrie) are attempting to keep their club afloat financially as both deal with separate dating struggles on the side, and Sonny (Dev Patel) prepares for his wedding while juggling the prospective financiers who are looking to help him franchise the hotel.
Much like the first film, the movie is worth it for the talented cast that is attached. There aren’t too many instances that include Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and Bill Nighy working on screen together and it is fun to watch these older actors get the chance to lead a film and enjoy the company of talented people around them.
This time around it also includes new faces such as Tamsin Greig and Richard Gere, who check into the hotel as added new guests. But outside of those additions, it is business as usual for the Marigold Hotel as the scenarios that are posed to the characters are strongly reminiscent to the last movie. Evelyn faces a new challenge as she tries to work, Douglas struggles with finding stability in his romantic life, Madge and Norman look for love but seem unable to stick to what is actually working, and Muriel (Smith) breaks from her hard exterior in order to help out in small ways.
But the charm is still there in the hotel as the cast is able to keep you engaged even if the running time goes a little longer than it has to. The stories are cliche and overdone, but with these actors working on them, they seem to have new life breathed into them with the help of a different landscape than we usually see in India.
It has never been a series that tries to re-invent the wheel, instead, it is an offering for a demographic (seniors) that seems to get mostly overlooked in the Hollywood landscape so the endearing success of the first film shows that people are interested in these stories being told, and while The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel may not be the best story being told, it is one of the only ones that works right now.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is more of the same out of this franchise, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be bad. It is charming, endearing, and at times bittersweet to watch these actors play characters that may be far away from how they truly are, but feel so close. The end product is predictable and the premise isn’t new, but audiences are still checking into the Marigold Hotel because it is familiar and sweet and unlike most of the other offerings for a demographic clamoring for more stuff like it.