The first Paddington film took myself by a rather nice surprise, given as I’ve had no connection with the titular character and walking out, I saw a sort of charm that loads of modern family films have lacked. It wasn’t merely a family film that kept itself limited to children but created an entire world in itself where everyone felt welcome – bringing out the sense of warmth and fuzziness that one could only imagine an actual teddy bear can bring. Coming into Paddington 2, I expected more or less the same and Paul King certainly didn’t disappoint. It felt nice watching this to let go of my usual cynical self all in the favour of a cute little bear who wants to find only the good in everyone that he meets.
Now that Paddington is a part of the Brown family, he has formed a reputation for himself as one of the community’s most popular members. But alas he still keeps in touch with his usual self, he is an especially good intentioned bear but trouble finds its way usually in the form of his own naïveté. Seeking to find a perfect present for his Aunt Lucy, he has his eyes out for a rare pop-up book of London that will lead to something much greater – only for it to have been stolen with Paddington being accused of the thievery. I think from reading a synopsis one would get an idea of why the Paddington movies work so well – because they don’t stretch beyond a simple idea, they just tell everything on the spot and it all tastes as sweet as the marmalade sandwiches that Paddington himself loves.
Whatever is there to dislike about the titular character? Sure, he isn’t a perfect figure but alas it’s the naïveté of Paddington himself that has always kept the fuzzy soul all the more lovable. Ben Whishaw’s voice work is still as charming as ever but given as Paul King takes his time to show the extent to which Paddington himself has affected the lives of those around him, it reinforces a good message for children that otherwise would still find its sense of resonance even with adult viewers. No matter where he goes, this kindness is never understated and even upon his entrance to prison he still managed to turn what would have become a grim experience into a paradise – exposing a lighter side even in who would appear to be the roughest of the bunch as made clear from Brendan Gleeson’s appearance.
But Gleeson isn’t the only welcome addition to the cast, for Hugh Grant manages to make a menacing presence during his screentime as the film’s villain, a failed but incredibly narcissistic actor named Phoenix Buchanan. A considerable improvement upon Nicole Kidman’s Millicent Clyde (who was easily the weakest aspect of the first film if I say so myself), Grant’s role still carries an odd charm that only shines all the more from the script. While Kidman’s villain felt more along the lines of an all too abrupt change in tone because of her own motive, Grant’s still feels in touch with the atmosphere that Paddington 2 is embracing because even his own silliness still feels natural to the film’s setting. He isn’t really playing a character that feels different from what one would be used to seeing from him, but that’s why he makes for a perfect villain to Paddington 2.
Even if the plot beats still feel exactly like the first film, it only feels like a minimal issue at that when Paul King makes this whole world so welcoming. Whether it be the impressive CGI or just the fact that every actor is playing along to add to the quirky nature of the story they’re a part of, the most important feeling that Paddington 2 can provide is merely that of feeling welcome. It feels welcome because everything appears to be just as polite as Paddington himself amidst all the absurdity. Paddington 2 is the best prison movie for children since Toy Story 3 and a sequel that matches up to the fuzzy and cozy feeling of its predecessor.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via StudioCanal.
Directed by Paul King
Screenplay by Paul King, Simon Farnaby, from Paddington Bear by Michael Bond
Produced by David Heyman
Starring Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Hugh Grant, Ben Whishaw
Release Year: 2017
Running Time: 105 minutes