The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the sequel to 2011’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It follows another chapter in the lives of the senior residents who now call the hotel home. The sequel also adds a few new characters to the mix and is all staged against the backdrop of hotel owner, Sunny’s upcoming wedding to, Sunaini.
This is a sequel that will please everyone who enjoyed the first one. It doesn’t stray very far from its roots. The film, however, does get a little bogged down by silly side plots that are trying to give this sequel a purpose. This is unfortunate because the film already has a purpose: it is an enjoyable, quaint movie about aging (a topic rarely tackled properly) starring some of the best actors of our time. That should be enough to entice moviegoers. It is frustrating (albeit not surprising) that Hollywood thinks otherwise.
Maggie Smith revives her character, Muriel and gives another quietly powerful performance. She is crotchety but allows for a lot of humanity to peak through those rough edges. And then there’s Judi Dench’s character, Evelyn, who is sweet, tough, and vulnerable. Dench and Smith have always played off each other well and this is no different. The entire cast work well together, as they’ve all known each other professionally for decades. It is like the movie version of the comfortable feeling of visiting with old friends.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel tackles aging in an admirable way. The characters are still finding themselves, finding purpose, and finding love. Life doesn’t end after 60. These are characters that are more than just one dimensional elderly people. They aren’t the eccentric grandparents or the old farts trying to avoid being put into a home. The fact that there are so few films that portray this stage of life is part of what makes The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel worth seeing. Not to mention the glorious, beautiful wrinkles on unabashed display.
On the whole, this is a very pleasant two hours. The writing holds up and many of the jokes are laugh out loud funny. And paired with a handful of poignant moments and an absolutely stacked cast, this is a movie that is hard to resist. It isn’t trailblazing storytelling, but it does have a story to tell nonetheless. And it is a story that should be told much more often.