The Watchers

The Watchers

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Review: Paddington 2 (UK Cert PG)

Three years on from the first film, the marmalade-loving little bear is back on the big screen with another madcap adventure. 

Paddington is settled with the Brown family and has become a popular member of the Windsor Gardens community (well, with everyone except the curmudgeonly Mr Curry). When on the look-out for the perfect birthday present for Aunt Lucy, he finds an old pop-up book in Mr Gruber's antique shop and resolves to get a job to pay for it. However, the book is stolen- and Paddington ends up in prison. It's down to the Browns to prove Paddington's innocence and find the real culprit. 

One word kept going through my head as I watched Paddington 2. Charming. The whole endeavour is absolutely charming. I'd say it's nigh-on impossible to leave the cinema without a warm, fuzzy glow and a smile on your face after seeing this film. 

It's impossible not to warm to Paddington's naively optimistic view of the world. He's a true believer in the good in people and, even when things prove otherwise, he still holds on to that thought. Ben Whishaw's wonderfully light and earnest voice performance really helps to sell that. Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins are great as Mr and Mrs Brown, while Julie Walters gives a warm performance as Scottish housekeeper Mrs Bird. 

Hugh Grant seems to be having a ball as the flamboyantly villainous Phoenix Buchanan, a West End actor reduced to doing dog food commercials. He thinks the pop-up book is a treasure map to reveal a lost fortune, which will restore him to his rightful place on the stage in a one-man show. He makes for a wonderfully unctuous villain. Brendan Gleeson is similarly great as hardman Knuckles McGinty who Paddington meets in prison. 

There's an veritable cornucopia of British acting talent on display here, many in very minor roles: Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton, Eileen Atkins, Meera Syal, Joanna Lumley, Peter Capaldi, Jim Broadbent, Jessica Hynes and Richard Ayoade all make appearances, with a particularly good turn by Tom Conti as a grumpy High Court judge. 

The whole design of the film is also great, with some wonderful visual flourishes; in one sequence, Paddington imagines himself and Aunt Lucy in the pages of the pop-up book, visiting the sights. 

This is an utterly delightful film, with something for the whole family. Very enjoyable indeed.

Rating: 5 out of 5


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