COMIC DRAMA; 2hr 2min
STARRING: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Ronald Pickup, Diana Hardcastle, Celia Imrie, Richard Gere, Tamsin Greig, Tina Desai
Street smart: Dench
Four years after its haphazard entrance on the hospitality scene, India’s Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly & Beautiful and its golden-aged roster of permanent guests are still going gangbusters, so much so that bouncy proprietor Sonny (Patel) and his crabby 2-i-C Muriel (Smith) are talking franchising.
While Sonny sparks and fizzes like a short-circuiting neon sign, driving fiancée Sunaina (Desai) nuts, the others have slippery fish to fry. Evelyn and Douglas (Dench and Nighy) are dancing — sedately! — around a relationship. Norman and Carol (Pickup and Hardcastle) are untangling crossed wires. Madge (Imrie) is romantically confused and Guy and Lavinia (Gere and Greig) are newcomers with deceptive objectives.
Buzz buzz buzz! Back for a second term, director John Madden and screenwriter Ol Parker know exactly what their audience is after: a return to that happy, daffy place where old age is a state of mind and obstacles are stepping stones to opportunity. It’s the same rosy spirit that played so happily in 2011 — that and the scatty lure of Mother India; surely the craziest, fail-safe diamond in any filmmaker’s crown.