The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Posted on March 5, 2015 at 5:55 pm

A documentary called “Young @ Heart” had a choir of singers in their 80’s performing contemporary rock songs.  The very fact of their age and experience gave an unexpectedly profound meaning to the words.  And in “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” a plot that ranges from silly to very silly still resonates, because the people in the silly situations are running out of time.  And because they are played by actors of such superb skill that they give power even to fortune-cookie aphorisms like “There is no present like the time.”  The characters in this film have more romantic complications and far more opportunities than the average teen sex comedy — and a lot more sex, too.  But their situation gives it all grace and poignance.

You could give Maggie Smith “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and she would make it sound like repartee written by Oscar Wilde. Here, she has a couple of very good insults and delivers them with wit as dry as a martini made of gin over which the word “vermouth” has just been whispered.  Just listen to her crisply explain that tea is an HERB requiring boiling water to release its flavor.  No tea bags limply dipped in lukewarm temperatures for her.  “How was America?” she is asked on her return.  “It made death more tempting.  I went with low expectations and came back disappointed.”

In the original The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a group of expatriate Brits came to India, mostly because they could no longer afford to live in the UK.  The energetic and eternally optimistic young owner of a dilapidated hotel decided to “outsource old age.”  Just as he saw the beauty of the ancient, crumbling building, he saw the grace, and the revenue stream, of people no longer valued in the place they had lived their lives.

This sequel, with all of the surviving main characters returning, takes us from Sonny’s engagement party to the family party, and then the wedding.  

As it begins, Sonny (Dev Patel) and Mrs. Donnelly (Smith) are driving through California (in a convertible!) to make a pitch for financing to Ty Burley (David Strathairn), so the hotel can expand. Burley promises to send an undercover inspector to check out the hotel. When an American named Guy Chambers (Richard Gere) arrives, Sonny assumes that he is the inspector and lavishes attention on him, ignoring another recent arrival, Lavinia Beech (Tamsin Greig of “Episodes”), who says she is checking out the place for her mother.

Meanwhile, Sonny is frothing with jealousy over another arrival, a friend of his fiancee’s brother who is handsome, wealthy, and very attentive to Sunaina (Tina Desai). Evelyn (Judi Dench), who has not quite managed to move things ahead with Douglas (Bill Nighy), is so successful in her free-lance work as a scout for textiles that she is offered a big promotion. Madge (Celia Imbrie, whose lush figure prompted Helen Mirren’s call for “bigger buns” in “Calendar Girls”), is happily “dating” two wealthy men and having trouble deciding between them. And in the silliest of all of these flyweight storylines, Norman (Ronald Pickup), who is trying out monogamy for the first time, thinks he may have accidentally put out a hit on his lady friend Carol (Diana Hardcastle).  There are some nice, quiet touches, though, as we see our friends more at home in India, including interacting more with the locals for friendship, business, and romance.

The movie gently disrupts all of the happy endings of the first film just enough to allow for some minor misunderstandings, some pithy and pointed commentary, and another round of even happier endings, leaving, I hope, the possibility of a third chapter.  Fans of the first film will arrive with high expectations and come home happy.

Parents should know that this film include brief mild language and many sexual references including infidelity and multiple partners.

Family discussion: Why was it difficult for Evelyn and Douglas to reach an understanding about their relationship? What was Sonny’s biggest mistake?

If you like this, try: the original “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “The Lunchbox”

Related Tags:


Based on a book Comedy Date movie Drama Family Issues Romance Series/Sequel

Bride Wars

Posted on April 28, 2009 at 8:00 am

Movies thrive on smackdowns. “Clash of the Titans.” “Alien vs. Predator.” “Freddy vs. Jason.” “Kramer vs. Kramer.” Rocky vs. Apollo Creed. And now, Bridezilla vs. Bridezilla. Kate Hudson (who co-produced) and Anne Hathaway play BFFs who are sweetly supportive of each other for two decades, linked in part by their shared obsession with the perfect wedding, until they both get engaged. At first, they are delighted and agree to be each other’s maids of honor. But when the only available spots at their dream location of The Plaza are at the same time, their brief attempt to resolve the conflict quickly escalates to armed combat.

Hudson plays a lawyer named Liv, a hard-charging, keep-it-all-together type with severe bangs and black-rimmed eyes that are supposed to make her look severe but just look raccoon-ish. Hathaway is Emma, a sweet-natured teacher who gets pushed around by everyone. But when it comes to her wedding, she decides to push back.

The promising premise and surface gloss are entertaining and Hudson and Hathaway just about own the adorable category these days. But this story has a sour taste and a hollow heart. The men in the story are disposable accessories, never consulted or considered, barely remembered. Not only is there no suggestion that they or their families might have some role to play in planning the wedding, there is almost no suggestion that they might have some reason for being there after the honeymoon. Weddings are like some huge supermarket sweep of frantic me-me-me events. Both women have to shanghai substitute maids of honor. They engage in an embarrassing dance-off at the bachelorette party to see who is sexier. Co-screenwriter Casey Wilson (of “Saturday Night Live”) shows up as another bride and the regal Candace Bergen appears as the most sought-after wedding planner but here is not one woman in the story who shows any consideration or affection for a man. A friend of Kate’s and Liv’s who gets married at the beginning of the film is already planning her next wedding by the end. The only love story that matters here is the one between Kate and Liv. No one ever asks if any of this madness serves any purpose other than one-upmanship. This is not a story about people getting married — this is a movie version of playing with Barbies.

Related Tags:


Not specified
THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2024, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik