The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel review – a patchy sequel

The stellar cast returns to India for a likable but ramshackle continuation of a winning formula
'Packed matinees': a scene from The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
'Packed matinees': a scene from The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Photograph: Laurie Sparham
'Packed matinees': a scene from The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Photograph: Laurie Sparham
Mark Kermode
, Observer film critic

Last modified on Wed 26 Aug 2020 10.53 EDT

In the wake of The King’s Speech and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, film-makers have finally woken up to the benefits of the “grey pound”. Thus, despite the absence of a second source novel by Deborah Moggach, director John Madden and screenwriter Ol Parker have attempted to recreate the winning formula, reuniting the surviving cast in Jaipur where new adventures are afoot. Here, Sonny (the terrifically likable Dev Patel) is preparing both for marriage and business expansion, setting his sights on a second hotel in which he and Maggie Smith’s Muriel Donnelly hope to interest investors. Enter silver fox Richard Gere (Sonny pegs him as a hotel inspector though he claims to be a writer) who has designs on Sonny’s mum. Meanwhile Evelyn and Douglas (Judi Dench, Bill Nighy) are still circling each other romantically, while maneater Madge Hardcastle (Celia Imrie) is torn between two lovers. Lacking the narrative clarity of its predecessor, this patchy sequel juggles too many character-threads to be anything more than episodic. Still, there’s a vast (and deserved) reservoir of affection for the cast, and the ramshackle but likable results will go down well with a cup of tea at what will doubtless be packed matinee screenings.

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