It feels fitting that the last movie I’ll ever review is The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Though it’d be nicer I guess to go out on something with a little more style or credit (whatever that may be) the flick is representative of the typical movie that I’ve spent more than 10 years writing about — part of a franchise or sequel thoroughly pleasant and undistinguished and after its small theatrical run bound to be forgotten.
Not that this is necessarily a damning thing and I’ve always thought this sort of admission hints at the problem most people have with critics of any stripe. You hate everything! How dare you tell me what I can and cannot like! But I’d argue being critical — ideally very critical — of any medium particularly one as popular as film needs regular and cultivated critical voices. Always fair yes but always harsh too. Because if one thing about being a film critic film festival programmer and all-around binge viewer has taught me it’s that most movies are not very good — terrible to middling really.
Again this isn’t as bad as it sounds. There are all sorts of reasons for this from the ascendancy of sequels and superheroes where studios ride on the popularity of a few flicks to the detriment of the many that are never made or more accurately only screened once or twice at a film festival. Still the handful of fun and distracting to rare and wonderful are plenty. Because here’s the thing — we all need some mindless distraction now and then and to paraphrase Pauline Kael unless you can enjoy trash you’ll never enjoy the movies. (And indeed I have some pals who don’t.) I’ve been awed and horrified by attending countless public preview screenings for movies like Little Man The Internship and Winter’s Tale to name a few — films that are soul-crushingly awful and should never be seen by anyone ever — yet packed to the gills because the ticket was free. Apparently those who waited in line for two-plus hours again and again to get the best possible seat for the worst possible junk well… I guess their time isn’t worth anything.
But I hope dear reader you think your time is worth something. Trust me it’s worth a lot. Ideally what a regular critical voice will give you is a reliable opinion to judge your own against — you might not share the same tastes as me but you trust your own and can find consensus somewhere between the two. With the end of Fast Forward Weekly there’s (to my count) one local voice left reviewing movies. And that’s a sad thing.
As for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? It’s a charming facsimile of the first film. The drama this time revolves around the addition of another hotel and the motor-mouthed Sonny (Dev Patel) stressing out about his impending nuptials. Richard Gere shows up to give the older English ladies a knot in their knickers. It’s kaleidoscopically colourful and lovely and all’s well that ends well.
THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL directed by John Madden starring Maggie Smith Richard Gere and Bill Nighy opens on Friday March 6.