I just like to pretend its a special episode of Downton Abbey, where the dowager goes to India and has crazy run ins with a new culture.
“The Second Best Marigold Hotel” is the direct sequel to the 2011 sleeper hit about a group of British retirees who occupy a quaint hotel in the middle of India. It once again stars Maggie Smith, BIll Nighy, Judi Dench, and many of the others from the original with Richard Gere joining in on the ins and outs of life in a new culture and the ups and downs of the twilight years of our lives. But with the original feeling like such a complete and well told story is there really anything new or fresh to explore here in a sequel? Well, no. But I’m not sure if it actually matters.
This cast is just so good and so good together. Dench and Nighy are still brilliant on the screen, and even David Strathairn in almost a cameo role, makes sure this ensemble is uber talented right down to the last drop. But once again it’s Maggie Smith who is the stand out, who’s tell it like it is sense of humor, interjects the proceedings with a much needed levity while not sacrificing the heart and grace of the story. GIrls got mad line delivery skills that’s for sure. Plus Dev Patel, who somehow stars in both major releases this weekend, maintains his sense of manic comedy in this as well, and shows the younger generation can keep up with the legends. But really the success of this film is in the beautiful way it showcases that the last years of our lives can still be full of the same creativity, exploration, and joy that has come before it. Which of course, was exactly what made the first movie such a wonderful experience.
In fact, there really isn’t that much difference between the two films. I mean sure, there’s a new central plot, and each of our characters has a little spin on what they are going through, but overall, it kinda feels like the same movie. As for that, the plot developments feel a bit more obvious and the pace feels a bit slower because we’ve already been here before. I mean, if you loved the first, you’ll likely find a lot to like here too, but just don’t come expecting much new. Also I felt like the climax felt a bit forced and overshot it’s impact, landing with not quite as much strength as was intended. The whole result of which for me, is coming away wondering if one movie was simply enough in this case and if trying to turn this into some sort of senior franchise may end up making it feel more like a BBC TV series instead of stand alone feature films.
Overall, “The Second Best Marigold Hotel” is certainly the second best movie in the series. Though all of the incredible actors, and the wonderful heart and humor are still here, the sameness of the content hinders its ability to have any sort of fresh impact. If only it were aging as well as it’s characters it might have gotten more than a B-