A friend got preview tickets to "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," so I had a chance to see it before it hit theatres. This also motivated my watching the original a couple days ago. Unfortunately, John Madden (who directed both) and Ol Parker (his screenwriter, this time and last) have decided that the problem with the first movie wasn't them overplaying things, but rather that they weren't clear enough ... so this latest movie should be drawn in broader strokes. Given that I thought the original was too broad, this presented a problem for me. Dev Patel in particular suffers for this: he's supposed to be a likable but bombastic guy, but because of his dislikes and suspicions at the beginning of the movie he alienates everyone: all the guests at the hotel, his fiancée, and his fiancée's family. But he gets his head adjusted by the end and all is well, because it's just that kind of movie.
So what actually happens? Sonny Kapoor (Patel) and Muriel Donnelly (Maggie Smith), co-managers of the hotel, decide it's time to expand the hotel chain, and approach an American hotel chain (run by David Strathairn - never let it be said they don't pull in the big names ...) for financial support. They are told that a hotel inspector will come, but they won't know who. Sonny decides he knows who that is among the couple new guests (Richard Gere and Tamsin Greig), and much incredibly idiotic preferential support follows. Cringeworthy and idiotic. With the steamroller of brilliant actors available to them, the movie couldn't be a complete loss - these are talented people who can drag something worthwhile out of the worst of scripts. But this isn't something you should be rushing to see.