review – the second best exotic marigold hotel

Second_Best_poster

Ah, finally, a movie made for adults that’s not relentlessly offensive and even embarrassing to so many adults. A movie you can recommend to your mother and she won’t ask you later: What was going on in there? That’s not to say that this is as good as the first “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” – because it’s not — but if you think India is a country of crowded cities, just wait until you see how many sub-plots they’ve jammed into this movie. There’s a lot – maybe too much – going on. And the storyline that seems least important is the one related to the second best hotel – which hasn’t yet been finished. But it’s needed because the first one is filled to near capacity – and everyone’s got something going on that provides a different plotline to follow. What’s going on here? Well, just maybe “hotel” – as a place is not only the background for what’s going on; maybe “hotel” as a concept is a metaphor for the plot. Consider: a hotel is filled with a diverse collection of people, each with their own story to tell, each somewhat disconnected from the others, each spending a brief time together before going their own way.

Maybe this movie – like the location where most of the action takes place — doesn’t need to be more than the sum of its parts. In that case, well, alright…because there are some good performances, some witty dialog, some warm moments in here. Richard Gere seems right at home; Bill Nighy plays his character warm and sincere; Dench is her usual wonderful self. Dev Patel brings youth and balance to the movie; he’s one of the few young actors amid a host of aging others who wander through here proving – age polishes talent; their gifts just keep on giving. Still, Smith is the movie’s real treasure and has most of the best lines and verbal barbs – but with the exception of her comments (mostly on America), there are few laugh-out-loud moments, but lots of opportunities to smile. And it all goes to prove: adventure and romance and the joy of surprises aren’t limited to the young. There are lots of bits of wisdom in here, turns of phrase that bring new meaning to well worn expressions. And perhaps none is better than the thought on which the movie ends: “There is no present like time.”

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