The Second Best…

Three years ago, a low budget British art house comedy-drama calledTHE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL became a sleeper hit at the box office.

It made so much money that it has spawned a sequel called THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, now playing in theaters everywhere.

But it’s “second best” by a very wide margin.

THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL is not even half as good as its predecessor. The great cast of aging British actors like Maggie Smith, Judy Dench and Bill Nighy is back.

But the screenplay is a mess with too many contrived, soap opera type plot lines and a ton of lame jokes. Plus, I could barely stand to watch the over-the-top performance of the youngest main character, the ridiculous owner/manger of the retirement hotel the cast lives in.

“Mrs. Evelyn Greenslade?”

“Here,” says the character played by Judy Dench.

As in the original film, the hotel proprietor calls the role of his guests each morning to assure that nobody has died in the night.

“Mrs. Muriel Donnelly?”

“What’s left,” says the character played by Maggie Smith.

To be fair, there are some funny moments in the sequel, but many of the jokes fall flat.

The ex-wife of one of the residents: “I couldn’t resist the chance to come back and visit the old crumbling ruins and see how the hotel was doing as well.”

The set-up is that Maggie’s Smith as Muriel is now an assistant manager, helping the young manager Sonny (played by Dev Patel) raise American money to buy a second hotel.

But Sonny is nothing if not insufferable in nearly every scene.

Sonny: While I am aware that convention dictates that I should wait for your assessment of our proposal, please take my interruption less as rudeness than proof of our profound excitement at the opportunity to meet yourself and your fine company and let me say right here and now….

Muriel: That’s enough.

A new addition to the cast is Richard Gere as Guy Chambers as an American guest, a man Sonny believes is operating undercover.

Sonny: He’s the one.

Muriel: What one?

Sonny: The evaluator sent to decide if we are to be a franchise or a footnote.

Muriel: What’s your evidence?

Sonny: (pointing to his nose): The nose knows.

Muriel: Right, so it’s bollox then.

As for the rest of the cast, Judy Dench and Bill Nighy fare best as two good friends who are tip toeing toward romantic involvement. Sadly, their’s is the only situation that even approaches real emotion.

If you saw and liked the first Marigold Hotel movie, you’d be better off watching it again than going to see this sequel.

Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.