The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
 
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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The title may have double meaning, but the singular rewards of this sequel are as rich as the original.

Once again, we are in the entertaining company of the retirees at the run down but homey Indian hotel. Sonny (Dev Patel) and his now co-manager Ms. Donnelly (the divine Maggie Smith) are trying to expand the franchise and wing off to California in an effort to secure financing. After a tart encounter over tea with the underused David Strathairn (here’s a vote to bring him further into the fold on part 3), the two return home to Sonny and Sunaina’s wedding planning, along with the romantic trials and tribulations of the seniors we met last time around.

And then Richard Gere walks in. Could he be the industry spy sent to check out the place by the Americans? Or is he really just a wanna be novelist, looking to restart his life along with the rest of the crew?

Sure, it’s fun to welcome Gere into this lot. I did hear an audible, appreciative gasp or two from the audience when he first appears. And even if those happy ladies sitting behind me were sold from the start, it’s really just kind of sweet to watch the lovely Lillete Dubey, aka Sonny’s mother, try to resist him. But props to all involved to actually give Richard Gere an “age appropriate”, or at least in the vicinity, love interest. But then again, this is a series based on telling like it is, or at least can be. You can find new meaning in life, even in its third act. You can move on, move out, settle in. You can also become comfortable in your own wrinkled skin. What a concept.

While the lessons are appreciated, the frothy story line is not. Still, when you have such marvelous actors as Smith, Judi Dench, and Bill Nighy leading the way in its telling, even this Second Best feels first rate.

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