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10th April
written by Mad Cow

Rated: PG for some language and suggestive comments
Mad Cow’s Rating: cowbells2

Directed by John Madden with screenplay by Ol Parker, this is one of those sloppy sequels that tries to build on the success of the first, although I must say that the first movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was pretty flawed. The first followed a group of retirees descending on an hotel in India intended for people who want to die there. Frenetic and enthusiastic hotel manager Sonny is less than forthright about the condition of the hotel but almost everyone settles in.

In the sequel hotel-owner Sonny (Dev Patel) wants to buy a second hotel for expansion since he is usually booked fully with full-time guests. He tries to get backing from an American hotel chain and is eager to please a new hotel guest Guy Chambers (Richard Gere) whom he assumes is there incognito to evaluate his hotel for the chain. Meanwhile he and his fiancée (Tina Desai) are planning their wedding and various subplots among the residents emerge.Desai and Patel

The film has some amusing moments but relies mostly on its all-star cast that entices people who can’t resist going to a film starring Judi Dench or Maggie Smith or Bill Nighy or even Penelope Wilton (from Downton Abbey). The plot is painfully contrived. For no apparent reason Dench is undecided about getting together with Nighy. Smith, as she was in the first movie, is miscast as a retired servant; she is there for her snobby zingers and of course does well with them, but one might hope for some logic to it all, even in a comedy. Chambers seems more interested in pursuing Sonny’s mother (Lillete Dubey) than inspecting the hotel. In the end a myriad of misunderstandings clear up and most of the characters are tied up in a lovely heterosexual ribbon with their intended love interests. The gay guy met his demise in the last film. And speaking of the last film, this one relies a lot on knowing what happened last time.

I have never been to India and thus enjoyed the beautiful sights and colors and people of the streets. But I am not so naïve as to suppose that the scenes are entirely real. Surely the filmmakers cleared out the beggars, the poverty and all signs of the class system. Middle-class and upper class people prevail and cab drivers are better off than one might think. I don’t mean to imply that the U.S. doesn’t have poverty or beggars but our nation has been very good with segregating the “unsightly” in ways that other countries have not been able to do. The environment seems a bit strange.

At the end of the day, I’d prefer to see all of these actors together in something more complicated.

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