Monday, 15 January 2018

Paddington 2

Having much enjoyed the first Paddington film, we were eager to see Paddington 2. We were not disappointed. Ben Whishaw is back, and excellent, as the voice of our hero, Paddington Brown (a bear), and Sally Hawkins and Hugh Bonneville are back as Mary and Henry Brown, the parents in the family that is providing a home for Paddington in London. Jim Broadbent is also back as Mr. Gruber, the likeable antique dealer. 

We get to see more of the Browns’ neighbours this time. With Paddington’s determination to always be kind and see the good in all people (one of his, and the film’s, greatest strengths), most of his neighbours love Paddington and are positively affected by his goodhearted if somewhat accident-prone nature. There are, however, two exceptions: Mr. Curry (Peter Capaldi), the grumpy self-appointed neighbourhood watch person, who sees Paddington as an outsider and a danger to the community, and Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant), the popular actor who is a little too interested in Paddington’s talk about the pop-up book in the antique shop that Paddington wants to give his Aunt Lucy for her birthday.

Next thing you know there is a break-in at the antique shop and the pop-up book goes missing. Paddington is seen running away from the shop and is arrested and sent to prison. Even in prison, Paddington is able to see the good in all the men around him and soon has a number of friends. But can his fellow inmates help him clear his name (as his family is trying to do)? Knuckles (Brendan Gleeson), the cook, says he can and he will, but only if Paddington breaks out of prison with him, which is against Paddington’s nature.

The scenes in the prison are absolutely delightful, helped by some excellent acting, especially on the part of Gleeson. The rest of the film is almost as good. Paddington 2 is a very funny, intelligent, innocent and inspiring family comedy-adventure, something that’s far too rare. That makes it all the more sad that, in spite of rave reviews from critics, North Americans are not much interested (as was the case with Paddington). Part of this is the British setting and style of humour.

The acting, cinematography and score are all outstanding. Paul King, the director and co-writer, has done it again, making a sequel that is actually better than the original (not least because of the way it handles the ‘baddie’, something that is again all-too-rare in films made for children, not that Paddington 2 isn’t as much fun for adults as for children). Highly recommended for everyone, Paddington 2 gets ***+ and is even on its way to ****. My mug is up.

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