Here is a movie that caters to those of a certain age - and long may that continue - but when I’m seventy I hope the movies made with my age group in mind are a little more interesting than this.
Opening with Dev Patel in a flash suit speeding down the highway in a posh car with the top down, I realised that I remember little to nothing about the first Marigold Hotel. Did he win the lotto? Has he expanded? No. He, the proprietor of the titular guesthouse, is in the US with cranky Maggie Smith to pitch the idea of opening a chain of similar hotels to David Strathairn’s big shot company. Told to expect an inspector, Patel reckons Strathairn’s spy is Richard Gere, in country posing as a novelist, and Patel gets so caught up with impressing the smooth American he loses sight of what really matters: his upcoming nuptials.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg as there are a few subplots vying for attention. There’s Bill Nighy attempting to woo unsure Judi Dench, who has just been hired as a buyer for a fabric company. There’s Celia Imrie and her indecisiveness over two suitors. There’s Ronald Pickup who, through a drunken misunderstanding with a tuk-tuk driver, has taken out a hit on girlfriend (Diana Hardcastle), who may or may not be tupping someone else. There’s Gere taking a shine to Patel’s mum (Lillete Dubey). And Patel is jealous of the time his fiancée (Tina Desai) is spending with wedding dance choreographer and prospective hotel partner (Shazad Latif).
If the first outing felt like an extended TV episode, the second steals outright from another - wasn’t it Fawlty Towers that had John Cleese fawning over a hotel inspector only to find he was dismissive of the real one? John Madden returns to direct again and, thankfully, ignores the clichés of the first outing (food gives you the runs, the crazy driving) but the Captain Corelli’s Mandolin director is only too happy to incorporate others. A wedding ending? Really?
Like the first film, it’s Patel’s energy that carries the story, as buzzes about delivering his snappy one-liners with as much haste as possible. He’s fun again but disappointingly the formerly acerbic Smith is restrained here: her distrust for the country and its people has cooled and so has nothing to do.
Surely that’s enough now.