A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

My Photo
Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, April 05, 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

At the end of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, all seemed right with the disparate group of British pensioners who now call India their home.   Relationships ended - Douglas and Jean (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton); relationships began - Douglas and Evelyn (Dame Judi Dench); or just moved forward - Sonny Kapoor and Sunaina (Dev Patel and Tina Desai). Alas, it turns out that all is not right; therefore it is not the end…which brings us to the sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

First there is Sonny, the manager, eager to branch out and franchise his hotel idea for the elderly to live out their final days. And some do live there until their end; The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is probably the first hospitality venue in history to demand that its residents answer a roll call every morning to verify that none of them ran off with Death in the middle of the night. He has an eye to renovate another nearby hotel to start his empire, but he needs investors.

And, oh yes, he is soon to marry Sunaina. The man has a full plate, yet still has time to personally entertain the mysterious American guest (Richard Gere), whom he believes is an inspector sent to spy on him by a prospective investor.

His desire to please and sincerity is beyond question, even as his ineloquent attempts to communicate across cultures embarrass himself and those close to him. Yet, as one character surmises, he is more often right than wrong about life. If only he could overcome his jealousy toward his bride’s male friends and stubbornness to work with a prospective partner.

When last we saw Douglas and Evelyn, they were riding off into the sunset on a scooter. The second Marigold Hotel opens with their relationship not having progressed much beyond the scooter buddy phase. Evelyn longs for Douglas, and one can see how she desperately wants him to sweep her off her feet before she accepts a fabric buying position in far off Mumbai. For his part, Douglas hems and haws so much that he nearly loses out on the relationship. It is only when Jean reappears and practically demands that he start an adulterous relationship with Evelyn (which will make it easier for her to divorce him and begin dating a lawyer back home) that Douglas finally steps closer to Evelyn. 

Meanwhile, deceptions abound in the lives of Norman Cousins (Ronald Pickup) and Carol (Diana Hardcastle), who are trying to keep the British ex-pat hang out Viceroy Club from bankruptcy and stay faithful to each other. Madge (Celia Imrie) tries to balance a relationship with two wealthy suitors at the same time. By the time Sonny marries Sunaina, all deceptions are exposed or otherwise resolved.  

Given the framework of the first Marigold Hotel, and given that most of the characters are closer to the mortuary than menopause (a variation on another of Sonny’s ineloquisms), you have to expect that one of the characters will die before all is said and done. Sure enough, the foreshadowing of one character “leaving the story” is omnipresent. At the end, the death does not take place onscreen, but Muriel (Maggie Smith) does get to say the final words of the story, eloquent and all.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel tries hard to top the original, but how can you top the wonderful philosophy of the first film (“Everything will be all right in the end…”). The best the second can offer is “It takes team work to make a dream work.” True enough, but why does that sound like it came from a motivational poster hanging in every break room all across corporate America?

Once again, we are left with a scene of the characters riding off on scooters, but somehow we just know that not everything is all right yet. Let’s face it: Norman will never settle for a monogamous relationship, and haven’t we ridden down this road before with Douglas and Evelyn? The story may stop here (for now), but the door is left open just wide enough for another sequel to come in.

Should the story continue? Why not? After all, it is the journey that matters. All of the characters, be they young or old, have much to teach and learn from each other. 
May the journey continue for all!

(Thank you for reading. And I hope everyone had a Happy Easter/Passover!)


Blogger Raybeard said...

Without actively DISliking the either first film or this one, RTG, some of us have had quite enough already, thank you - and the thought of a third gives me some dread. But they are clearly popular enough in some circles to warrant a continuation, and who am I to judge other people's tastes?
As I've seen that W.Q. has now commented on my own review of some while ago, I assume that you've also seen what I said then, though I must concede that your own posting here is much more detailed and perceptive. When I saw this I couldn't remember how the first one had ended. It had obviously made a greater impression with you.
If there is a third I suppose I'll be seeing it, but without even a smidgeon of the enthusiasm that you hold.
Thanks for your thoughts, which are always useful in making me question or challenge my own verdict.

Hope too that your Easter was a good one. Mine was like any other day (sob sob!). In no way different apart from the altered TV and radio schedules

April 6, 2015 at 2:15 AM  
Blogger John Going Gently said...

I thought the scenes between smith and dench had a certain power about them...... Apart from that it was a renake rather than a sequel

April 6, 2015 at 10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those of us of a certain age, who remember the way movies used to be, this is the ideal movie to see, along with a small (not large) box of buttered popcorn, seated in a quiet theater. The kids won't be there. They will be in the other theaters watching some young adult save the world or watching NYC be destroyed.

As you say: "May the journey continue for all!"

April 6, 2015 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Hi raybeeard, and thank you for your comment. Actually I just read your review and you did raise some valid points. Even i had a WTF moment when I saw a publicity photo of Richard Gere dancing. Actually you wrote a more well rounded review then I did (I didn't mention the director! Shame on me!, where i think my writing was more of an essay on the characters and the situations. So bet it!
As for a sequel to the sequel, consider this: according to IMBD the estimated budget was $10,000,000; it opened at number one in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Here in the states it has grossed $30M in its first month. I'm sure the bean counters are alrady smelling the delectable order of profits from a future chapter.

Thank you John for your thoughts. There's always a danger of sequels being too similar to the original, but then again many in the audience probably expect that.

Thank you Anpnymous. Yes, let us have the quiet theater and let the younguns spend $143 million on Furious 7? Godfrey Daniels! Once again the cinema is wasted on the young!

April 6, 2015 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger Raybeard said...

Yes, RTG. The primary determining factor as to whether this, or any other film, will have a sequel, is not whether it needs one or is a good idea but whether it can make (even more) money for the makers. Sad, really - but that's market economics for you.

April 7, 2015 at 2:20 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home