Starring: Dev Patel, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Richard Gere, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Diana Hardcastle, David Strathairn, Penelope Wilton
Directed By: John Madden
A film with this cast can’t actually be terrible. Disappointing? Yes. Misguided? Yes. Definitely. Unnecessary? Probably. I know this same film with a different cast would have seemed and felt utterly pointless. I mean, honestly, this is like Cars 2 all over again. They took the most annoying character (Dev Patel) and basically formulated the film around him. The plot of the sequel is about him wanting to expand to another hotel, thus the title, and also his wedding to his girlfriend. They also took another supporting character, Maggie Smith’s Muriel Donnelly, and decided to continue to work on giving her a heart of gold.
Sidelined, when they really needed more scenes together, are Judi Dench and Bill Nighy, who spend the movie expanding on their relationship. Only, they barely get any scenes together. And when they do, it’s a lot of tripping over their words, and not saying what they really mean. The most compelling couple (and two of the best actors) is shoved into the subplot. Meanwhile, Richard Gere joins the cast, and instead of really interacting with any of the original cast, he’s given a new love interest instead. David Strathairn is criminally underused. Celia Imrie is still the Blanche of the group, and her desire to have sex with anything that moves pushes her toward a radical character choice that is quite silly in the end.
Other than Dev Patel, the cast is pretty amazing though. Judi Dench and Maggie Smith could make Left Behind an Oscar Contender. They’re pretty awesome. Its just that the film gets bogged down by the focus on Dev Patel, who is great at being a ball of energy… but he’s really annoying in large doses. And these doses are like XXXL in this film.
There’s some charm left in this cast, but they’re mining for scraps right now. A third Marigold would be a mistake.
FINAL GRADE: B-