Fans of 2012’s sleeper hit “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” will find this sequel entertaining and watchable, but without nearly as many satisfying accommodations and perks as its first adventure. Viewers’ prior familiarity with the large and diverse returning cast is a prerequisite to comprehending the multitude of plotlines in this newest feature. Despite repeated attempts to tap into the successful courtship formula used in the original film with the introduction of Richard Gere, this story squanders potential excellence with self-indulgence and an overall lack of focus on a main theme. The end result is a mixed bag of short-lived comedy and numerous missed opportunities.
Energetic and talented British actor Dev Patel, from 2008’s Academy Award-winning Best Picture “Slumdog Millionaire”, returns as the face of India’s Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Patel’s character Sonny wishes to expand his hotel business to a second location in the Indian city, but must first clear several hurdles in his way. Patel’s over-the-top performance as Sonny, a gadabout engaged to be married to his fiancée Sunaina (Tena Desae), is both comical and endearing. The film, however, doesn’t give the couple’s upcoming nuptials the attention it deserves or that audiences, who saw the first film, come to expect.
After a sluggish beginning to the film, too many tortuous and convoluted storylines unravel–none of which can be salvaged with the thin, transparent screen time afforded to them. The most promising side dish is Gere’s character, who’s central to the movie’s overall plot, but remains underdeveloped and underutilized throughout.
This film does provide several amenities which help it gain momentum leading up to a spectacular ending. The movie’s most appealing aspect is the majestic Indian attire and vibrant dancing found in Sonny’s long-awaited matrimony to the smoldering Sunaina. Once again Academy Award-winning director John Madden captures the allure and beauty offered by India’s rich culture and traditions. His intimate and insightful look at India through this film’s camera lens, is enough to even make the travel guide giant Fodor’s jealous. And that alone may be worth the cost of a theater ticket to travel enthusiasts. For the rest, though, you’d be better served waiting for this sequel to be released as a DVD or streaming rental.
“The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is rated PG with a running time of 2 hours and 2 minutes.
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