The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, rated PG
In the sequel to the 2011 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Sonny (Dev Patel) is back as the owner of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful, which Muriel (Maggie Smith) is now helping Sonny to manage. There are two primary storylines for the film:
• Sonny wants to expand his “empire” by purchasing a vacant building and turning it into the Second Best Exotic Hotel. He and Muriel travel to San Diego to seek funding for the project. Throughout the film he embarrassingly and increasingly irritates and caters to one guest that he is sure is there to check them out and make his recommendation on funding.
• Sonny and Sunaina (Tina Desai) are preparing to get married, but Sonny almost completely ignores the preparations while putting all of his energy into getting funding for the expansion. He’s also extremely jealous of an attractive and talented male friend who is helping Sunaina prepare her wedding dance.
But the film is really about the many relationships between the characters staying at the hotel, most of whom return from the first film. Joining them are the attractive Guy (Richard Gere) and Lavinia (Tamsin Greig). And the relationships are complicated indeed. Many of the characters, none of whom are married (to each other), are having sex. That’s the biggest problem I have with the film – an open acceptance of sexual immorality. And if some of the characters aren’t having sex yet, they are in relationships, or wanting to be in relationships before they are divorced from their current spouses.
A theme that runs through the film, and it makes sense due to the age of the characters, is that time is running out.
Though the film has a strong cast – led by Judy Dench and Maggie Smith, and also including Bill Nighy and Richard Gere – I found it to be quite slow, up until the fun closing wedding scene. John Madden is back as director and Ol Parker as screenwriter. I had looked forward to the film and wanted to like it, and the film wants you to like it. However, as discerning viewers, we have to reject the immorality that is celebrated here.