Review: Repeat visitors welcome at "Best Marigold" sequel

There is a cheekiness as well as an earnestness to the title “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” It winks: A sequel embraces its knock-off status.

It also teases: This comedy’s malapropisms come as one tongue does its best to acknowledge another. Which, in this pleasant, second-best gathering often yields wisdom — intentional or accidental. “There’s no present like the time,” says more than one character.

Having established a winning communal atmosphere at the rundown but charming Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in Jaipur, India, young proprietor Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) needs to expand. We learn from the daily morning roll call that the guests like their accommodations so much that very few of them have left.

So we find Sonny and co-manager Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith) zipping along scenic Route 66 toward San Diego to meet with a hotel group specializing in accommodations for the AARP crowd.

The two make an amusing tag team: the overly enthusiastic pup accompanied by the kind of older pooch who barely looks up when she growls. The hotel group honcho (David Strathairn) can’t quite hide his amusement even behind his salt-and-pepper beard.

At the same time Sonny plots this new addition, fiancée Sunaina (Tina Desai) is back in Jaipur planning their upcoming nuptials. Sonny proves a loving but distracted groom-to-be.

In addition to Muriel, most of the Brit pensioners are happily hunkered down: Judi Dench’s Evelyn has become a freelance fabric buyer for a British concern. The brow-beaten Douglas (Bill Nighy) pines after her. You may recall unpleasant wife Carol (Penelope Wilton) high-tailed it back home.

Madge (Celia Imrie) swings between two attentive suitors, while Norman and Carol’s fledging relationship has become just routine enough to give the former playboy reservations.

Directed by John Madden, the original sleeper discovered a wide-awake audience when it debuted in 2012. For the record, I saw that movie near Sun City, Ariz., where last week’s llama drama unfolded. My then-85-year-old mom and I made our way up the stairs to the last row in a matinee crowded with the perfect and game demographic.

That year, “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” was part of a pop-culture parade that was taking an updated gander at aging.

So quickly have we become accustomed to frisky ideas about seniors, desire and the post-retirement life that when new guest Guy (Richard Gere) arrives, the book he’s at work on about growing older will strike most as glum and boneheaded.

Only Sonny believes Guy’s actually the hotel inspector sent by his potential investors. Bending over backward to please Guy, Sonny neglects another guest (Tamsin Greig) who’s checking out the properties on behalf of her aging mum. In slighting one to court the other, Sonny creates havoc and no small bit of intrigue for his widowed mother (Lillete Dubey).

Additional tension comes by way of Kush (Shazad Latif), a handsome friend of Sunaina’s family that Sonny fears is a rival.

Romantic miscues abound. Mistaken identity comes into play. And Madden and writer Ol Parker enjoy gently sampling some movies sure to nudge the memories of its Greatest Gen and early Boomer audience like smart crossword puzzle clues. There’s a “Stranger On a Train” subplot. There’s a sweetly subtle nod to the final moments in “The Philadelphia Story.”

With Smith, Dench and Nighy, the cast really is expert. And Patel is swift with a phrase even if Sonny’s a bit of a dunderhead, Sure, it has the comfy vibe of the familiar, but it’s all in feel-good fun.

Lisa Kennedy: 303-954-1567, lkennedy@denverpost.com or twitter.com/bylisakennedy

Article source: http://www.denverpost.com/movies/ci_27645034/review-repeat-visitors-welcome-at-best-marigold-sequel

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