The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

 

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel does what a sequel is supposed to do. It advances the storylines set in the first film, offers a couple of new tweaks and doesn’t try to reimagine the scenario the earlier movie delivered.

Plus, Second does not contain the high volume of old, corny jokes that were littered throughout the first Marigold.

Why do a Second? Well, 2012’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel grossed over $136 million worldwide (about a third of that in the U.S.). And there are not that many films that are targeted to older moviegoers.

In Second, the crew from the first (Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) are back at the hotel. After being lured from Britain to India by visions of a paradise and finding a dump in the first film, they stayed and reset their lives. The message of both films is that older people have lives, loves, dreams and libidos.

Meanwhile, hotel manager Sonny (Dev Patel) has visions of adding a new hotel to his portfolio while getting ready to marry Sunaina (Tina Desai). When new guest Guy Chambers (Richard Gere) arrives for a stay at the hotel (and to provide eye candy for female moviegoers), Sonny does all he can to impress him (presuming Guy can help him fulfill his real estate ambitions).

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a bit too long. Director John Madden diagrammed several dance scenes on his telestrator and, while they add some sizzle and color, they add to the fatigue factor that sets in about three-quarters of the way through the two hour film.

I think the best reasons to see this film are Maggie Smith and Judi Dench. These two 80-year-olds (Dench is 3 weeks older) and their characters are just fun to watch. We should appreciate them while they are still alive and gracing movie screens.

Another reason: TSBEMH is a perfect film for the 70-something, 80-something or 90-something in your family. Take ’em!

 

 

 

About Time

Time travel is such a hokey plot gimmick. A few decades ago, time travel was used sparingly. Now, it’s a part of so many fantasy/sci-fi movies and TV shows that it has become ho-hum. Am I fatigued with time travel? God, yes!

Having said that, in About Time, the device of time travel delivers a romantic comedy with that’s sweet and funny. Sure it’s a gimmick, but in this case, it works.

About Time is written and directed by Richard Curtis who is best known for writing Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and, in his debut as a director, Love, Actually. He also wrote the scripts for the two Bridget Jones movies. His movies are romantic, sensitive and, happily, funny. And generally set in the UK, as is this one.

Curtis does two daring things in About Time. First, he has cast as his male lead a relatively unknown, Domhnall Gleeson, a lanky ginger who was Bill Weasley in the last two Harry Potter movies. Gleeson is up to the task as Tim. He is fun and funny as a guy who uses the time travel trick to great advantage.

Second, Curtis has a scene where two guys meet two girls in a restaurant that’s totally dark. That’s right, the screen is black for a good couple of minutes as the guys chat up the ladies without benefit of seeing them. I’m not sure this literal blackout scene is a success, but it is memorable.

One of the unseen ladies is Mary (Rachel McAdams) who becomes Tim’s chosen love, thanks to a little time traveling by Tim. She’s earned her rom-com cred in The Vow and The Notebook, not to mention the raunchy rom-com Wedding Crashers. She is sexy, but in a non-sleazy sort of way. (Her dimples appear to get deeper with every film she makes.)

Tim’s Dad and Mum are Bill Nighy and Lindsey Duncan. Nighy is in great form as the one who shares the gift of time travel with his son. Curtis has handed him some good laugh lines and he lands them neatly.

Traveling in time cleans up many of life’s messes for Tim, just as it has for his dad. And that hokey gimmick is what gives About Time its charm.

The big question: Does Rachel McAdams have the star power to generate ticket sales? Because Domhnall Gleeson, as good as he is, is not a star. About Time will need good word-of-mouth to get bodies into movie houses. Here are my words from my mouth: If you like good rom-coms, you’ll like About Time.