A distant, vastly disappointing “second”; unfathomable, dreary interpretation of characters so alive and vibrant in the first “chapter”; gone is the exciting, enticing flavor of India; this bland, silly scenario could have taken place anywhere. The same cast, marginalized by mundane writing and superfluous directing (John Madden, “Shakespeare in Love”).
Dev Patel, “Sonny” the endearing proprietor of the “Marigold Hotel” is reduced to an irascible, rude, highly-frenetic, prattling nincompoop; what his fiancé “Sunaina” (Tina Desai) found ingratiating, confounded audiences who felt he needed a well-deserved slap: she should have dumped him for the handsome “Kushal” (Shazad Latif), panting in the wings.
The most disturbing element, pervasive throughout, is that the septuagenarians/octogenarians were more concerned about their libido than the dawn of a new day; decrepit, jejune curmudgeons spying on their significant others; desperate women searching for a mate; embarrassingly Richard Gere as “Guy Chanbers” pairs after one wine-infused, honey-coated dinner with “Mrs. Kapoor” (Lilete Dubey ), Sonny’s mother. Defying India’s entrenched, traditional mores.
“Muriel” (Maggie Smith) is the narrator, and still dying; Bill Nighy, so charming in the first rendition as “Douglas” is empty- headed, needing perpetual prompting as a tour guide; Dame Judi Dench, clutching her dignity, saves “Evelyn” by a “pashmina”, from drowning, like the others, in the “Ganges” of mediocrity.
Missing is the luster garnished in the first film; characters transformed, rejuvenated, revived by the mysticism of India; in “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” they have regressed into the sad, static state from which they first graced the threshold of the unfinished Marigold.
Woefully, the anticipated Bollywood dance sequence, was miserably interspersed, by the inevitability of death.