‘Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ Funny and Charming

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Sometimes once is plenty.

The best thing about “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is that it is possible to follow the plot and gain an affinity for the characters without ever having viewed its predecessor. Those who have seen the first and enjoyed it will probably like this second offering. However, if you happen to be one of those viewers who falls into the former category and walks away wondering what was the point of having a sequel, you probably won’t be alone.

The main cast is back, and the sequel picks up where the last movie ended. As the retired group of British expats settles to life in India some new characters enter the scene, including a woefully underused Richard Gere and the addition of a would-be rival who may jeopardize the aptly named hotel owner Sonny’s dreams of business expansion. While a big part of the movie deals with this and Sonny’s up-coming nuptials to his beautiful finance who doubles as the hotel’s receptionist, the best parts are arguably the subplots: including one between Gere’s character and Sonny’s mother and the romantic tension between Evelyn and Douglas, aptly played by Judi Dench and Bill Nighy, respectively.

Indeed, one could argue that had one or both of these relationships been the main focus of “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” the result might have been a stronger picture. Still, the finished product is not bad. Parts of it are quite funny and charming and for those who like films with fairly predictable endings, you could do worse. However, those expecting a movie on par with a 5 star hotel best look elsewhere.