Paddington 2

Published on December 28th, 2017

Paddington 2

Starring Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, and Julie Walters.

Directed by Paul King

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

Rating: ★★★★★

A good sequel is hard to find while a perfect one is near impossible so we can thank director Paul King for conquering the curse and delivering one of the brightest, funniest, and campest movies of the year with Paddington 2. Last time out, the cutest little bear in the world almost left this mortal coil thanks to the dastardly plans of Millicent Clyde, played to the hilt by Nicole Kidman. The last we saw of her, she was doing hard labour in a zoo, shoveling horse dung. There’s no sign of her this time out but King has come up trumps with the plum casting of Hugh Grant as Phoenix Buchanan, a narcissistic actor whose star has faded.

The game is afoot quick sticks when Paddington, determined to buy a special pop-up book for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, takes on odd jobs, most memorably as a hairdresser, to buy it. Barely a day away from having enough money, he witnesses the antique shop that’s holding the book being robbed by a bearded thief. Its no secret the culprit is Buchanan, a master of disguise. It sadly goes awry for Paddington who is ultimately arrested and incarcerated for the crime. Such is his kind nature, it takes him no time to win over the meanest inmate, played by a growling Brendan Gleeson, and soon, life inside has taken a turn for the dainty.

There’s nary a moment in King’s movie that moves it even a second away from sheer pleasure. First and foremost, this is a children’s movie, but adults will find plenty to enjoy here and they’re likely to bless it for the lessons it teaches about prejudice and tolerance. Paddington’s adventures on the inside, for example, are delivered with a light touch and watching Gleeson slowly soften to his newest assistant in the kitchen are among the funniest moments of the year. As perfectly pitched as Ben Whishaw’s contribution is as the voice of Paddington, the movie belongs to Grant. Quirky to a fault, Grant, who strikes a perfect balance between a proper English gentleman and a naughty little demon, is clearly enjoying every second of the task at hand. He gets great support from Sally Hawkins (who’s having a banner year), Hugh Bonneville (whose yoga skills prove fortuitous), and Peter Capaldi as the resident grouch.

The design of the film matches up to the last one perfectly with vibrant colours and fluid cinematography. A sequel to a successful children’s movie it may be, but the great news is how perfectly the high standard set by the first adventure has been maintained. And the finale? A delirious song and dance extravaganza we’ve waited all year for. Don’t miss it.