Friday, March 6, 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

2011's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel boasted a cast that was able to elevate its source material to create a likable, if lightweight, film about a group of elderly travelers finding a second home in India by choosing to stay in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the the Elderly and Beautiful."

The sequel returns most of the cast, and director John Madden, but almost none of the charm of the first film. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel wastes it cast and beautiful backdrop with enough romcom cliches, misunderstandings, overreactions, and poor judgement to fill half-a-dozen Three's Company's episodes or three Kate Hudson movies.

The drama surrounding the hotel this time around centers around Sonny Kapoor's (Dev Patel) impending marriage to Sunaina (Tina Desai) and plans to grow his brand with the acquisition of a second hotel. Neither is going as smoothly as Sonny would like leading to the script slowly turning the charming young man into an intensely dislikable character and his bride into a woman too dense to understand the basic nature of the man she's about to marry.

Dev Patel is a likable actor but for the sake of braindead romcom plot his character is morphed into something truly awful. Had the script chosen to transform Sonny into a pedophile and child killer I'm not sure it could have made him less appealing. Jealous, insane, mean, dismissive, and even cruel, the only reason the wedding story doesn't screech to a complete halt is the necessity of the film dumbing down his bride to the point where her less than brilliant attempts to help involve enlisting the help of the one man on the planet her fiance is insanely jealous of only adding further fuel to the fire. The whole plot is a comedy of errors without the comedy.

The rest of the cast doesn't fare much better. Evelyn (Judi Dench) and Douglas (Bill Nighy) fumble about as two characters unable to define their relationship, Norman (Ronald Pickup) acts like a complete buffoon convinced he's accidentally hired a cab driver to kill his girlfriend (Diana Hardcastle), Madge (Celia Imrie) struggles with two separate marriage proposals from men she doesn't necessarily love before making the most obvious choice in the entire film, and Muriel (Maggie Smith) dispenses gruff wisdom while hiding her deteriorating medical condition. There's also Richard Gere as a retiring would-be author who attracted to Sonny's mother (Lillete Dubey) and who may or may not be a hotel inspector.

The film buckles quickly under the weight of so much hogwash drowning any chance of the film having any value whatsoever. Sure, the actors pop their heads out of the water from time to time stealing nice moment or two, but they are just as quickly pulled back under by the tide of cliched mediocrity. Whether or not you enjoyed The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel the film was worth seeing for the performances of its cast which weren't completely submerged by the plot. I guess people are correct when they say you can't go home again, even if your home is an Indian hotel for the elderly halfway around the world.

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