Just as warm and charming and with pretty much the same cast as the original, this sequel will delight its sizeable fan base, and leaves the door wide open for a third film.
Director John Madden and writer Ol Parker have stayed with their winning formula. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is again a contrived and predictable affair, but it's also bursting with colour, humour, and an irresistible joie de vivre.
It's the formidable ensemble cast who make these films so pleasantly watchable; it would be hard to go wrong with a cast of this calibre who clearly enjoy sharing scenes with each other. Judi Dench and Bill Nighy's slow-burning romance takes centre stage this time, along with Sonny (Dev Patel) and Muriel Donnelly's (Smith) business plan to expand into a second hotel.
Other story strands include a crisis of the heart for the flirtatious Madge (Celia Imrie), who must choose between two wealthy Indian suitors, and Carol (Diana Hardcastle) and Norman (Ronald Pickup) contemplating monogamy. It's poor Sonny, though, who is really put through the wringer, when a rival returns to Jaipur and threatens his expansion plans and wedding to the love of his life, Sunaina (Tina Desai).
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
It wouldn't be a sequel if there weren't a few new faces, but it turns out this is a hard party to crash successfully. Richard Gere turns up looking like a Hollywood star, but comes across as awkward and, well, American. Comedian Tamsin Greig is a wonderful addition with potential to liven things up, but is underused. The most exciting new face is David Strathairn, whose involvement is modest this time, but hopefully he'll take a room if this pensioner rom-com franchise continues.
The original film threw out the question: Why grow old in dull old England when you can enjoy an exotic retirement in India where the elderly are appreciated? It's still the underlying theme, but there's an even bigger push for us not to write off the elderly. The characters' individual storylines aren't terribly original, but setting the story against the colourful and chaotic backdrop of India is, and together with a formidable cast makes TSBEMH a warm and fun crowd pleaser.
Cast: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith
Director: John Madden
Running Time: 122 mins
Rating: PG - Coarse language and sexual references
Verdict: Another crowd pleaser.