Paddington 2 review: Paul King is back behind the camera for this hugely entertaining sequel that will warm your heart this winter.
Paddington 2 Review by Paul Heath.
Three years after the debut of the beloved, and indeed the well-received first movie, one that made a substantial $268 million around the world, comes Paddington 2, a follow-up which may have bettered its predecessor in every single way.
Paul King returns to direct and co-write, along with the superb Simon Farnaby (Horrible Histories, Bill), the film kicking off with Paddington very much settled in his surroundings of Windsor Gardens with his adopted family, the Browns. Most of the original cast from the first movie return, including Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, and Peter Capaldi, though this time joined by Brendan Gleeson and an exceptional Hugh Grant as the new villain, Phoenix Buchanan, a faded and utterly self-absorbed actor.
Related: Paddington Blu-ray review
The film opens with Paddington running around his ‘hood, clearly now an established and well-liked figure in the community. He interacts with positively everyone, whether it be the local newsagent, played by Jessica Hynes, Sanjeev Bhaskar’s forgetful neighbour, or Peter Capaldi’s grumpy neighbourhood watch guy Mr. Curry. We discover that it is fast approaching Paddington’s Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, a milestone that he wants to recognise with a warm gesture, so sets his heart on a rare pop-up book he finds in Mr. Gruber’s (Jim Broadbent) local antique shop. The big problem is that the book in question has a rather hefty price-tag of £500, so Paddington must get a job to pay for the book.
Hilarity ensues as Paddington sets about town trying to find a vocation that suits him. A brief turn in Mr. Giuseppe’s barbershop doesn’t end too well, particularly for one such customer who finds himself on the wrong end of some hair clippers that our favourite bear has trouble controlling, but eventually he does find his path in life by cleaning windows, and the cash quickly begins to pile up. However, everything takes a turn for the worse when the pop-up book, which Mr. Gruber had put by in his shop, mysteriously goes missing, and rather shockingly, Paddington finds himself framed for the crime!
The young bear is subsequently thrown into prison for a ten-stretch, all hopes of pleasing Aunt Lucy with a very thoughtful gift for her milestone birthday a distant memory. It’s up to the Browns to work together to clear the young bear’s name before his time runs out.
As soon as the film starts to roll, you know you’re in for an absolute treat, and memories of the first movie come flooding back. Paddington 2 pulls out all the stops to please its audience, and that it does in absolute spades.
Ben Whishaw reassures us that he is perfectly cast as the loveable, well-spoken bear, and his vocal performance is note-perfect in every scene. The returning characters have more to do in this, but from the outset it is apparent that this is absolutely Hugh Grant’s train set to play with, the character of Phoenix Buchanan a devilish invention, one who Grant feasts upon throughout, appearing to be enjoying every single minute.
Another worthy addition to the cast is Brendan Gleeson as the brilliantly named Knuckles McGinty, a much-feared prison cook with a thick beard and tattoos on his knuckles – hence the name. Gleeson is wonderful as McGinty, the actor relishing a lighter, more family-focused part, though one as equally well-performed as anything else he’s done over the past few years. He’s one of the best things about this movie.
The action moves at a brisk pace, the 105-minute running time almost perfect for its target audience. King and co. have crafted a film that suitable for children (and adults) of all ages, one that contains mild peril, but one that manages to shy away for any over-bearing menace. I watched the film with a six-year-old, a four-year-old and a thirty-two-year-old, and every single one of them loved every minute. As did this forty-year-old too.
Paddington 2 is a funtastic, hugely entertaining movie – one that harks back to the heart-warming family film of old. Not only is the film one of the best family adventures of the year, it’s also one that is a beautifully poetic love letter to London. King has created an enchanting world that I can’t wait to immerse myself into again.
Paddington 2 review by Paul Heath, November 2017.
Paddington 2 opens in UK cinemas on Friday 10th November 2017.