Film Review: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The British film industry has made a very simple type of film, successfully, for a number of years. It’s found a defining formula that allows it to keep its head held high and offer a usually refreshing change from Hollywood’s seemingly endless franchise blockbusters and comic book spin offs. Films like Pride, Mr Turner, Philomena all good examples of the narrative character driven movies that are shaping and defining what a “British” film now is.

However, that British genre is splitting, because while traditionally it’s films are aimed at all generations, designed to be feel good family entertainment, connecting all age groups through timeless stories of hope and factual depiction, over recently years there has also been a rise in the more mature film. Both in terms of casting and audience. Films specifically designed to fill a gap, mainly the mid afternoon snooze slot, where tea and biscuits is more preferable to popcorn and cola.

Old Poeple At The Cinema - The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

And this all started with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which I think surprised a lot of people with just how well it did, and drove a whole demographic back to the “flicks” that had previously shied away in fear of multiplex madness and 3D fakery. So, it was no surprise that there would be another outing to the Marigold Hotel, whether or not the story could sustain it, because, the audience almost demanded it.

Sadly though, while the cash rich, time rich audience may be enthralled by the idea of another film, I didn’t really see the point. I didn’t see exactly why it was needed. Fair play to the produces in getting the name green lighted. It’s just a shame that as usually happens, replication of the original never results in how you remember. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, for me, just fell short, fell flat and actually felt unnecessary compared to the original, or even a lot of others.

My first problem is that the film just feels tepid. There is a charm that runs through it, but it’s nothing more than a pleasant handshake. I just found the story while enjoyable a bit too divided and slow. The film has attempted to force a twisted story into the character driven humour that made the first film and they don’t sit happily. They’ve diluted what made the first film great. And this is highlighted by the fact that the film is at it’s best when it’s returning to the characters, to their personalities and ignoring ideas anew. The story just isn’t interesting until you can see the whites of their eyes.

Ronald Pickup & Dianne Hardcastle - The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Don’t get me wrong, there are moments of true beauty in it. The moments when it gains some humility, when it allows the characters to be hurt, it can really pack a punch. But it’s usually a look, a lingering doubt that has the effect more than any line or joke. And this is the kind of film that will always suffer when the biggest connection it makes with you is when it’s causing pain to those it wants you to be friend.

I have a huge problem as well with the characters, or rather what I think is a heightening of their personalities. Originally I found them fresh and funny, this time I found them annoying and grating. Dev Patel as Sonny and Maggie Smith as Mrs Donnelly really wound me up, and got under my skin. There is only so much dead-pan bluntness and lost in translation insults that I can take before I just want to scream “I get it, please, just talk normally”. While Bill Nighy and Ronald Pickup just come across as a pair of stuck up public school boys who should know better. And the introduction of Richard Gere and Tamsin Greig as the attempt to widen the story to sustain the film, never given enough screen time to serve their purpose because you can feel the producers scared of losing the apparent “core” that is so important.

Cast At Premiere - The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

My other issue is that I just didn’t find it that funny. There is one joke about fairy tales that had my laughing but everything else just felt predictable and obvious. Which is echoed by the plot. The entire film feels almost choreographed. You can predict exactly what’s going to happen, what the punch line, or the twist, will be a long, long time before they arrive at it. And while there are times when the writing is good, and the plot strong, because it’s so expected and linear, it somehow loses its impact.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t truly disliked The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, I just haven’t been truly entertained by it. In fact, because I found it so simplistic in it’s ideas and writing I was actually bored by it, and sadly, looked at my watch numerous times throughout. I think it’s like visiting a grandparent as a small child. It’s exciting when you first arrive, but very quickly it descends into boredom and pain, as a world too removed from your own is thrust upon you and what seemed like potential fun turns sour when you realise their TV doesn’t even have a remote, and you’ve got days to go before you leave.

6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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