Blu-ray Review: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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Director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) struck gold with the 2012 hit The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The modestly-budgeted romantic comedy glided along on the charm of its mature cast of pros, including Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, and Bill Nighy. Set in India at the hotel named in the title, the film wound up becoming a solid international hit. It may have appealed primarily to the older set, but that specialized sector of the movie-going public is a potent one when the right flick comes down the pike. Director Madden has returned with screenwriter Ol Parker for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Though not quite the hit that the first one was, this decidedly mild Second Best tale managed to drum up enough business to qualify as a minor league hit.

Another ensemble piece, Second Best continues with the travails of Muriel (Maggie Smith) as she and Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) venture out to San Diego. They're hoping to strike a deal that will put up another hotel alongside the original Best Exotic Marigold. Before any decision can be made by businessman Ty Burley (David Strathairn), an inspector pay the proposed site a visit. Could it be handsome stranger Guy Chambers (Richard Gere)? Gere makes a great addition to the mix. Suave and almost casual throughout, he's definitely in tune with the overall low-intensity vibe of the picture. A romance blooms between Guy and Sonny's mom (Lillete Dubey).

That's, of course, most of the appeal of the Marigold movies: senior-based romance. Evelyn (Judi Dench) and Douglas (Bill Nighy) find themselves on shaky ground as Evelyn's work takes increasingly more of her time. Madge (Celia Imrie) juggles a pair of potential beaus. The whole thing plays like something of a multi-culti AARP promotional campaign, good-humoredly demonstrating that older folks get frisky too. The laughs aren't quite as consistent as the first time around, but fans will be smiling.

An eye-pleasing transfer of Ben Smithard's colorful, shot-on-location in Jaipur, India cinematography is complemented by a highly active DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix. While it's a predictably outstanding high definition Blu-ray presentation from 20th Century Fox, the ball has been dropped in the special features department. A series of six short featurettes won't trouble you for longer than about 17 minutes. They're fluff, but "Filming in India" at least provides some nice scenery. There's also a still gallery and a pair of trailers.

The bottom line here is, pretty simply, those who enjoyed the gentle comedy of the first Marigold Hotel will likely be pleased with the similar ambiance of the The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The Blu-ray package includes a downloadable UltraViolet Digital Copy.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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