Complete A-Z list

Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The


Stars: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, Tina Desai, Diana Hardcastle. Lillete Dubey, Tamsin Greig, Shazad Latif, David Strathairn, Richard Gere

Director: John Madden

When in doubt, make a sequel.

And sometimes this hallowed filmmaking regular comes out rather well, as happens here.

Deborah Moggach failed to write a second novel about the eponymous exotic hotel in Jaipur.

Undaunted, screenwriter Ol Parker and director John Madden came up with the storyline for this undemanding crowd-pleaser and Parker’s subsequent screenplay sensibly reunites original stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie and Ronald Pickup, along with Dev Patel to decorate the second-time-around tale.

The American market is catered for with an opening scene which has Smith and Patel driving along Route 66 on the way to persuade American hotel group head David Strathairn to invest in Patel’s dream of buying a second hotel. We then return to India where comic complications and mild (in the context) dramatic problems arise as Patel sets out to establish his second exotic hostelry but runs into problems, exacerbated by the stress of his upcoming wedding…

There’s never any doubt that there will be an audience friendly resolution.

What makes the journey there so entertaining are the spot-on performances by the key players. It’s a romcom for the over-60s, blended with comic catastrophes (there are times when there are resonances of Fawlty Towers but with real actors rather than over-the-top comics) and an essentially feel-good journey from start to finish. Sufficient sentiment is neatly injected into the story and the whole affair is garnished with evocative Indian location shooting.

And the American appeal?

In addition to Strathairn's brief turn, Richard Gere turns up at the hotel playing a hotel inspector? Or is he?

No matter. The rousing Indian song-and-dance climax brings the charming fairy tale to its expected – and delivered - happy ending.

Alan Frank

USA/UK 2015. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by Fotokem.
122 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 26 Feb 2015