The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel [2015] ★★½

7097_poster_iphoneIt’s called “The Second Best” for a reason: it’s basically the same movie as the 2012 original, minus the element of surprise. But who would want to miss the chance to see Brit acting royalty nailing every nuance in this comedy laced with genuine emotion? Not me that’s for sure. There’s Dame Judi Dench, who is now a buyer of  exotic fabrics in India. There’s also the great Bill Nighy, who is now a clueless tour guide who’s trying to seduce Dench since his wife, Jean (Wilton), has left him. Add to that Maggie Smith, who has now agreed to  co-manage the hotel with Sonny (Dev Patel), who wants to expand now that he’s about to marry his fiancee (Tina Desai). There are newcomers as well in the form of Richard Gere, who may or may not be an inspector sent to spy on Sonny’s hotel operation. With a lesser cast, this would be a lineup of TV-movie clichés. But this is a cast that never makes a false move even when the script settles for formula. Director John Madden guides his actors through their paces, smoothly if not subtly, amidst beautiful Indian scenery, but I wish someone had tightened the picture, which runs out of steam at the three-quarter mark. Still, this sequel is quite entertaining. It may not be the most original movie I’ve seen so far this year, but it did manage to put a smile on my face.

Rating: 2.5/4

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