This film wasn’t made for me. I’m definitely not in the target demographic, and perhaps even worse is the fact that I haven’t seen the first installment. You might not think that would be a big problem for a non franchise film like this, but it really is. The story threads seemingly pick up where they left off in the first film, there are a lot of what feel like in jokes that I didn’t feel like I was a part of, and there are a lot of characters for a small-scale film like this. It felt more like coming into the second series of a TV show than the sequel to a film.
When I did feel like I’d caught up with all of the story threads, I did start to enjoy myself. The writing is decent, and the actors do well to drive the story. Dev Patel is particularly good as the bumbling hotel owner Sonny. He delivers some great physical comedy, but provides strong emotional scenes when needed. Maggie Smith is also great as the crotchety old woman stereotype, Muriel, a role she’s been playing a lot recently.
Unfortunately this film suffers in other areas. The production values are obviously quite poor in some areas. The sound mixing is uneven, and at times very distracting, and there’s a lot of stock footage which stands out every time it’s on-screen. If I were a sceptical man I might say that this film only got made so the cast and crew could have a nice holiday in India.
Films like this are often described as being ‘feel good’, but having seen it, I didn’t leave The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel feeling good, or even with a smile on my face. There are a lot of surprisingly serious moments, and the film doesn’t always go down the expected, route. That’s actually something I respect in a film, but it doesn’t make up for the films shortcomings.
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