The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opened last weekend, and critics across the board agree its name is apt. The sequel to 2011’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel returns to the cast of elderly Anglo A-listers that made the original a success. The group of retirees who first came to the Marigold to spend their last years in India have settled into a tight-knit family of sorts, enjoying comfortable, though still romantically intriguing, lives at the hotel. The plot juggles these relationships alongside the development of a second Marigold hotel to questionable success.
Christy Lemire writes for RogerEbert.com that “Parker’s script superficially bops around between these various story lines until they all converge in the inevitable Bollywood dance sequence . . . Madden’s movie is crammed with so many characters that we never spend enough quality time with any of them for their stories to resonate.” Variety’s Peter Dubruge disagrees, saying, “the cast make their characters so lively, we’re happy for the chance to spend more time with them.” Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri also thinks the cast saves the disjointed, busy plot, saying, “It could have easily become a dog’s breakfast of subplots and wacky-old-person shenanigans. But the proceedings remain dignified and smooth, thanks to the game cast.” These reviewers all especially approve the addition of Richard Gere to fill Tom Wilkinson’s slot in the original; Dubruge calls Gere the film’s “secret weapon,” saying, “[he] can weaken the knees of a certain demographic faster than you can say ‘osteoporosis.’” Ebiri concludes with an even-keeled judgment: “The title says it all: This is second best, so don’t expect much. But for those who adored the original, it’ll do.”
USA’s miniseries event Dig premiered last week, and though the network is attempting to make a unique mark on a tough Thursday night timeslot, the jury’s out on whether the show can stand up against its many similar predecessors. The New York Times’ Mike Hale wastes no time in establishing how the combination archaeology-criminology-eschatology drama fits into the Da Vinci Code tradition, dubbing it a “globe-spanning spiritual-procedural” that’s “generally polished and intelligent,” though perhaps too much so. Hale also draws connections to no fewer than six other TV shows, including the previous work of Dig’s creators Tim Kring and Gideon Raff.
Brian Lowry at Variety also can’t come down in favor of the show without contextualizing it: “Writer-producer Tim Kring likes telling a certain kind of story, incorporating far-flung locales, disparate characters and a vaguely supernatural element, with the connections only becoming apparent over time (and sometimes, not completely even then).” The L.A. Times’ Mary McNamara also thinks the show’s grand, convoluted plotlines may get it into trouble if left open-ended, saying, “Dig takes its time, weaving its various plots together in a way both tantalizing and occasionally maddening. Certain scenes in early episodes make it clear that those involved in the conspiracy are willing to go to Any Lengths, though by the end of the third hour, we have no idea for what.”
Jessica Gibson is an intern with Christianity Today Movies and a student at The King’s College in New York City.