You know you’re in for a fun ride when a movie opens with Dev Patel and Dame Maggie Smith careening down Route 66 in a sports car with George Thorogood’s “Move It On Over” playing in the background. This sequel to 2012’s smash hit “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is just as fun as the first movie. How could it not be, with such a wealth of pensioners sharing screen time?
￼Muriel Donnelly (Smith) and Sonny Kapoor (Patel) are in the States seeking ￼investors for a second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, as the first one is overflowing. The residents from the first movie are now settled into the all-inclusive Indian ￼hotel catering to “the elderly and beautiful,” and all are present and accounted ￼for during their morning roll call (because you never know if one of them may ￼have expired during the night).
The American investors, including Ty Burley (David Strathairn), are intrigued with Sonny’s plan, but inform him that they’ll be sending an anonymous guest to check things out. When Muriel and Sonny arrive back home in colorful India, sure enough, the handsome 60-something Guy Chambers (Richard Gere) shows up, but tells them he’s an aspiring author working on a book. Of course, Sonny believes him to the undercover investigator and goes to extremes to make sure he’s comfortable.
￼In romantic escapades, Sonny and Sunaina (Tina Desai) are engaged and planning ￼a wedding (not without problems, of course), Madge (Celia Imrie) must decide ￼between two suitors, Evelyn (Judi Dench) and Douglas (Bill Nighy) are struggling ￼to take the next step in their relationship, and Carol (Diana Hardcastle) and ￼Norman (Ronald Pickup) ponder their “open” union.
￼Hollywood has traditionally been a place for all things “young,” so I love movies ￼like “Marigold Hotel” that celebrate the wisdom and beauty of people who aren’t ￼basking in the glow of their youthful appearance. And guess what? The oldsters ￼are just like the rest of earth’s citizens. They’re unsure of themselves, shy in their ￼romantic endeavors, and uncertain of their place in the workforce.
￼They’re also happy, sad, lonely, social and every other adjective used to describe humans of any age. It’s not like you get to a certain age and suddenly, you’re not ￼human anymore.
￼There’s a great scene where Judi Dench’s character Evelyn is talking with someone ￼she’s been working for, buying fabrics and negotiating prices with the street ￼vendors. Evelyn assumes that the company will want someone younger, and ￼instead, they want her to work for them full-time — and there will be lots of ￼travel. “I’m 79 years old,” says a shocked Evelyn. “We don’t mind if you don’t,” ￼says her potential employer.
And when Muriel asks Evelyn, “How many new lives can we have?,” her friend replies, “As many as we like.” That’s a very comforting thought when so many seniors see their independence and value in this world taken away from them. Could age really be a state of mind? Ok, maybe not 100 percent — these bodies aren’t made to last forever, after all — but a positive outlook sure can’t hurt.
I hope there’s a third “Marigold Hotel” in the works, even though as Nighy told my writer Paula Schwartz on the red carpet at the NYC premiere last week (featuring Dench and her new beau!), “We don’t know, but as Judi said when the second one was announced, ‘They better hurry up.’ So I don’t know if there’s ever going to be a third one, but if I’m still alive, yeah, I’ll be there.”
I’ll be there, too.
Reel Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG for some language and suggestive comments Released in Theaters: March 6, 2015
Best for Ages: 12+
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Based on a Book
Runtime: 122 minutes
Directed by: John Madden
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Cast: Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Dev Patel
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender.
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth?
Great flick! Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.
Jane Boursaw is a well-known film critic and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Images in this review used courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures.