The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Unlike good wine or cheese, this franchise, unfortunately, did not get better with age, but at least - again like good wine or cheese - it still maintained a certain level of standard. Some good laughs and some good bits of dialogue and witty one-liners, but it lacked focus and ultimately sincerity and heart.
With the same writer and director as the first installment, one would expect big things, but unfortunately, the difference here is that this is an original story as compared to the first which was based on Deborah Moggach's novel and so the characters were unfortunately less well written.
Like most sequels, Ol Parker and John Madden had decided to go bigger: more stars/characters, more storylines, longer running time! But for all that they sacrificed what made the first part such a big hit: the excellent chemistry between the core cast: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Dev Patel.
The few scenes that Dench and Smith had together were easily the highlights of the show, as were Smith's biting one-liners.
As much as we loved the other characters, they were unfortunately bit characters. Hence, their expanded storylines had less emotional investment for the audience. This is also unfair to all the brilliant actors that make up this wonderful cast.
Even the underlying "core" story of Patel and his fiancee was less interesting this time round as Patel became almost caricature-like and that plotline unconvincingly predictable.
Thankfully, we still had Dench, Smith and Nighy, but all three of them spent too much time apart - they burn so much brighter together than apart. Also, Dench and Nighy's characters - especially the former's - deserved a much closer examination. Think Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones in Hope Springs.
Perhaps if they had shorten the running time by about a quarter and trimmed some of the other story lines this could have had been another big smash. Now it is just a little splash.