TL;DR – I don’t think I can say it as good as the first one, but what I can say is that it is full of joy, laughter and feels, and I would recommend it for everyone
Score – 5 out of 5 stars
P.S. – There is a mid-credit scene
Ah, Paddington, I do love this film series, I saw the first film when I was a chaperone for a group of teenagers going to see it at the local drive-in theatre. I had no idea what to expect, but the first film was filled with such joy and was genially one of the funniest films I have ever seen. I found it so funny that at one point one of the teenage girls I was with yelled out “IT’S NOT THAT FUNNY BRIAN” … but it was, oh it was. So I was delighted to hear that there was a new movie coming out, but could it live up to the first film, well no, but that doesn’t mean it was not a delightful ton of fun.
So to set the scene, Paddington (Ben Whishaw) has been living with the Brown family for a while and has become a fixture in his local community. So long in fact that it was almost time for Aunt Lucy’s (Imelda Staunton) 100th birthday and Paddington is insistent that he find the best birthday present possible. This problem is solved for him when Kozlova a travelling circus comes to town and gave a box of old knickknacks to Samuel Gruber (Jim Broadbent), antique shop owner to sell for them. One of which was a beautiful handcrafted popup book of key London Landmarks, and this was perfect for Paddington because Aunt Lucy had always wanted to visit London but never had the chance. The book was really expensive, but Paddington is nothing but full of determination and he started a new job washing windows to save up and by the book. However, things don’t go to plan and Paddington ends up in jail to the devastation of everyone bar Mr Curry (Peter Capaldi). So the Brown’s, father Henry (Hugh Bonneville), mother Mary (Sally Hawkins), kids Judy (Madeleine Harris) and Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) and Mrs Bird (Julie Walters) the housekeeper have to try and get Paddington’s name cleared, why he is trapped in a place that not even marmalade sandwiches can help.
Look right from the start Paddington 2 is one of those films that you will either find delightful or obnoxious, and part of that is how much you are prepared to let them get away with this very rose-tinted glasses view of London, especially the prison system. Indeed, I could get picky about all the details it gets wrong about the justice system, but one, it is a kids film, and two Paddington himself is so delightfully endearing, you can’t help but put that all aside and go with him on his forced adventure. This is because Paddington is always finding the joy in every situation, which is something really refreshing today in the world of dower/dark/gritty remakes.
So now we are going to go into a bit more depth so there is likely to be some [SPOILERS] from this point onwards. I think part of why this film works as well as it does is that it is completely and unashamedly British. It’s not trying to tone it down for foreign markets, indeed it is like they looked at Harry Potter and Doctor Who and went, you’re holding back. We see that in the role of Phoenix Buchanan played impeccably by Hugh Grant. He is so wonderful as the villain, playing that high camp role to a tee. Indeed some of the highlights from the film are him jumping from persona to persona, up to and including that ad for a certain food product. In any other role, it would be silly to the absurd but not here. Same with Nuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson), who with any other actor, or in any other film would be an annoying stereotype, but here they make it work.
I also have to give a shout of to the animators/actors who created Paddington. It has been a good year for computer-generated characters with Caesar and Kong pushing that realism boundary with every hair follicle is lovingly rendered. Paddington is no less detailed, but they have gone for a slightly stylised look that really works for the character. As well as this, he is wonderfully acted by Ben Whishaw, and this draws you in and you see him as a real character.
On the flip side, as I said this is a film marketed towards a younger audience and like the recent and wonderful Coco (see review), if you have seen any films in this genre, then there are no real surprises. Indeed, you would probably know all the major plot beats from pretty early on, and you would probably be right. However, this is one of those films where I just don’t care because they have taken the time and care to create people that you can route for.
In the end, do we recommend Paddington 2, yes, yes of course we do, it is charming, delightful, and full of joy and we need more of that in our lives. It is a movie about how we should focus on being cooperative rather than antagonistic, when we should see the best in people, and that family is not just a biological construct, and those are all themes I can get behind. I am more than happy to admit that I teared up in the first 5 minutes of this film and I was a wreck in the end that was just perfect. Give this one a look, with or without the kids.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Paddington 2
Directed by – Paul King
Written by – Paul King & Simon Farnaby
Based on – Paddington Bear by Michael Bond
Music by – Dario Marianelli
Cinematography by – Erik Wilson
Edited by – Mark Everson & Jonathan Amos
Starring – Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Ben Miller, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Joanna Lumley, Noah Taylor, Tom Conti & Richard Ayoade
Rating – Australia: G; Canada: G; Germany: na; New Zealand: G; United Kingdom: PG; United States: PG