“THE SECOND BEST MARIGOLD HOTEL” is aptly named. You’ll wish you were watching the first, but this will do in a pinch. Like the sequel to the best one released in 2012, it’s a sometimes happy, sometimes sappy take on getting old without giving up. The plot revolves around the opening of another hotel, since business is booming at the first Marigold. Indian actor Dev Patel is back again as the young hotelier Sonny Kapoor, and he’s as ditzy and endearing as ever. He is also getting married, and his wedding plans are woven throughout the other 15 or 20 subplots involving everyone else. Imagine a year of daytime soap opera stories — think The Old and the Restless — packed into two hours.
The cast, most of whom were in the first film, is full of frankly old actors (although oddly enough, not one of them wears glasses). Some of them make aging look like fun and others make it seem scary. On the fun side is Evelyn (Judi Dench), who at 79 has started a whole new life in India. She has just landed an exciting job that requires frequent travel around the country, and is involved with Douglas (Bill Nighy) who, besides being sexy, handsome, funny, sensitive and available, has a motorcycle. Beat that for an old lady’s fantasy!
Those two are still in the hand-holding stage, but the rest of the gang is horny as hell. (Perhaps it’s the hot climate or the spicy food.) One who’s not is British transplant Mrs. Donnelly (Maggie Smith), who instead of a love interest has been given all the best lines, which she delivers with a tart tongue and imperious expression. But hers is a sad tale sounding the film’s only sour note. (Poor Maggie was chosen to play the one character who really does act her age.)
The best part is the setting: India sparkles, and there is not a beggar to be seen anywhere. Ditto anyone getting diarrhea from the food, which was at least touched on in the first film. In this version, India looks more like Miami Beach, all bright lights and glittering restaurants. Except for the occasional elephant on the street you can hardly tell it’s all taking place in one of the world’s poorest nations.
Richard Gere has been added to the cast, but not so’s you’d notice.
Andrea Rouda blogs at “Call Me Madcap!”*In an e-mail, writer Andrea Rouda notified MLB that the name of her blog has been changed to Daily Droid.