No one wants to be deemed second-best, yet there it is, right in the title of the film: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The result when you succumb to sequel-itis: Let's take this delightful little surprise hit and try to duplicate its success without doing anything original.
Ol Parker is back as the screenwriter, and John Madden returns as the director. Both try to give this sequel the same feel as the first, but they've run out of ideas. Buying a new hotel seems like a giddy capitalistic exploit.
The greatest risk of a movie like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel would be the one-dimensional fetishizing of the country, where India is held up as a magical bazaar. Thankfully, the movie doesn't do that.
At last a film celebrating the last years of life in blazing glory set in the joyful splendor of Udaipur, India. The writing is witty and quick, while the scenery is lush with an abundance of flowers in bold primary colors.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the kind of movie they seldom make anymore -- except in England. When they try to do it in America, you wind up with something like Garry Marshall's New Year's Eve -- or worse.