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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

July 20th, 2015

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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Best-Exotic Marigold Hotel is a film that cost just $10 million to make, but pulled in a global box office of $135 million. Needless to say, a sequel was made and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel hit theaters earlier this year. Comedies rarely produce sequels that live up to the original film, but is this one an exception? If not, is it still worth checking out, if it isn't quite as good?

The Movie

Without getting into too much detail with the first movie, The Best-Exotic Marigold Hotel is about a retirement home in India run by Sonny Kapoor and the ensemble of retired British people who choose to stay there. It is what we would call light entertainment. There's nothing groundbreaking about the movie, but the cast rises above the material.

The second film starts in California, with Sonny and Muriel, one of his residents, on the road. They are going to San Diego to meet with a potential investor to help expand The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, to a second location. He is happy and excited to be there. She's never happy. It is her more endearing quality. They are meeting with Ty Burley, who runs Evergreen, a chain of retirement homes. The philosophy at Evergreen is that retirement homes shouldn't be about waiting for death, but living lives to the fullest. Sonny and Muriel convince them that they have the same ideals and that their residents have full lives. Muriel is obviously working on the business side of the Marigold Hotel, Evelyn has a job as a fabric buyer, Douglas is a semi-competent tour guide. The folks at Evergreen are still going to send an undercover client to check things out first hand, but they are impressed with what they've seen so far.

Meanwhile, Sonny is also dealing with the stress of his upcoming wedding to Sunaina. She's busy planning the wedding. He wants to elope. Meanwhile, she's gotten her brother and Kushal to choreograph their big dance number at their wedding. ... You need a dance choreographer for an Indian wedding? ... Now that I think about it, it is simply obvious. Anyhoo, Sonny is immediately jealous of Kushal and seeing him dance with Sunaina escalates the situation. This jealousy increases when Sonny learns Kushal is also looking to buy the same property he is after.

This isn't the only romantic subplot in the film. Evelyn and Douglas are in love, but there are a couple of obstacles in the way. The biggest of which is Jean, Douglas's wife. They are still technically married, although she left him at the end of the first movie. She'll be back. Additionally, Evelyn's been offered a promotion, which will include traveling around India, which would mean spending time apart. Finally there's Sonny's Mother, who has arrived to help take care of things during the wedding preparation. Another new guest, Guy Chambers, arrives and he and Mrs. Kapoor hit it off. Sonny immediately assumes he's the undercover client sent by Evergreen, so he's quite happy about this development, if a little confused why anyone would be smitten with his mom. Needless to say, there are complications in all three romances.

Of course, this is an ensemble movie and there are more plot threads than this, which gets us to our first problem. There are lots of storylines, so most don't get a lot of attention, so they are not developed enough to really draw you in. Even worse, there are some that are so silly that they don't deserve the bit of attention that they get. There's a subplot that I won't even begin to describe for fear of spoiling, but I will say that it wouldn't feel out of place in an episode of Three's Company. However, like last time, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has an amazing cast that can easily rise above the script. They take what is a relatively everyday romantic comedy and add enough talent and class to the proceedings that it rises above the genre. The characters and the chemistry are huge assets, as is the location.

That said, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel isn't as good as first film was. It doesn't have the same freshness and some of the characters seem a little more stale this time around. If you liked the first film enough to buy it, then the drop in quality isn't big enough to make much of a difference. This one is worth picking up as well.

The Extras

The only extras are six Promotional Featurettes, but their average length is just three minutes.

The movie cost less than $10 million to make, so its technical presentation isn't up to the same level as a $100 million special effect laden summer blockbuster. However, it is still excellent. It was shot digitally, so it should come as no surprise that the level of details and the colors are amazing. There are a few nighttime scenes that don't look quite as strong, but they still have high details. The audio is surprisingly good for a dialog-driven comedy. The dialog is always clear, while the surround sound speakers are quite lively with lots of ambient sounds. It is still not a complex mix, but better than expected.

The Blu-ray costs $20, which is $5 or 33% more than the DVD. This is industry standard for this type of release.

The Verdict

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a romantic comedy and these films rarely earn great reviews. Films in this genre tend to follow the pattern too closely to please most critics. This film does suffer from the typical clichés, but the talented cast more than makes up for this. Additionally, while the DVD or Blu-ray don't have a lot of extras, it still has enough to be worth picking up over just renting.

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Filed under: Video Review, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Richard Gere, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, David Strathairn, Penelope Wilton, Lillete Dubey, Tina Desai, Shazad Latif