The original “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is what you could call a coming of old age film. A series of old, but highly talented, actors (Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy) are discontent with various aspects of their lives and travel to India in search of something more. In a surprisingly heartwarming and enlightening manner, the characters find that life in one’s twilight years needn’t be quiet or boring in the slightest. My grandfather had passed not long before I saw the movie, and although this made the viewing experience much more personal and emotional, many of my friends (whose grandparents were alive and well) found “The Bext Exotic Marigold Hotel” equally moving.
“The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is far less interesting. The main cast has already solved all of their heavier personal issues in the first movie (such as coming out of the closet, marital problems, and accepting death), so the sequel is a series of trivial romantic pursuits. Six character arcs are, to the scriptwriter’s credit, intertwined coherently and comprehensibly. This is no easy task considering that it is almost impossible to be emotionally invested in a bunch of people whose lives are basically perfect. However, that’s all there is to “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel:” a series of incredibly unimportant concerns. Simply put, there is no struggle, no character development, no conflict. And, like the title, the movie is way too long, so every tedious minute makes it feel even more superficial.
As if to rub salt into the audience’s wounds, the dialogue only adds to the tedium. At first, the pleasant humor is cute in a lighthearted, PG kind of way. It is accompanied by sage life advice, the kind that grandparents are expected to give. The two are repeatedly presented in a predictable pattern: laugh a little, “aww” a little, rinse and repeat. Given the aforementioned length of the movie, this repetition became obvious to the point where I could guess when the next old age joke would come.
But on the literal bright side, it’s beautiful! Every shot looks like it was taken out of a travel magazine and is bursting with color! Well that’s because it was shot in India and that place is seriously photogenic. Still, complimenting “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” for its cinematography is like complimenting “Midnight in Paris” for having the Eiffel Tower in it.
I was probably the only person under the age of forty in my screening. If you’re closer to my age and If you’re reading this review, please take that into consideration.
Review by William Park