Movie review: "Exotic Marigold" sequel is definitely second-best

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

I don’t know if anyone under the age of 65 was clamoring for a “Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” but even with the law of diminishing returns on comedy sequels, it’s tough to argue with reuniting this cast.

To recap the 2011 original, a varied group of British retirees convene in an Indian hotel run by Sonny (Dev Patel). The hotel is way more run-down than advertised, but bonds form and charms take hold.

For “Second Best,” the Marigold has blossomed into a vibrant retirement village. As it nears capacity, Sonny has his eye on expanding to a second hotel. Meanwhile, the hotel’s many previous occupants fall in and out of love, and some new ones, including Richard Gere, are introduced.

To state the obvious gag from the film’s obvious title, this is indeed “second best,” but we still get to watch a cavalcade of great British actors, including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy. Of course, the addition of Gere hardly makes up for the key subtraction from the original in Tom Wilkinson.

It’s hard to fault director John Madden for wanting to return to this material after the unexpected hit of the first, but there is way too much going on. Parallel stories for all of these characters mean most all of them aren’t fully developed.

It still bears a certain inescapable charm and it should ring the bells of the older target audience, but it’s not worth the trip for most.

Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

"The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"

Opens Friday

2 1/2 stars out of 4