Director: Paul King
Starring: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins
Length: 1h 43m
I went to see the first Paddington film in January 2016. I remember being sceptical- the reviews had been good, very good in fact. But with the sudden voice recast of the titular bear midway production, and with Paddington being a character I held very close to my heart, I didn’t know what to expect. I need not have worried, I skipped out the cinema positively glowing. However, would this be the case for the notoriously difficult sequel? Spoiler – I loved it even more.
We catch up with the Brown family a year or so after the events of the first film. Now an important member of the local community, Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) spends his days helping his neighbours and spending time with Mr Gruber, an antique shop owner on Portobello Road. After finding the perfect birthday present for his Aunt Lucy back in darkest Peru, a one-of-a-kind pop-up book of London, it is mysteriously stolen and Paddington is framed for the crime. Paddington and the Brown’s must now find out who the real thief was to prove Paddington’s innocence, piecing together clues from break-ins all over London where the suspects all seem to have the same, dazzlingly blue eyes of that actor from down the road…
Paddington 2 rattles along with pace and wit, the romanticised and bright version of the Browns’ London pulls us right back to where we left off. Paul King returns to direct, and whilst the Paddington films are certainly different to his other work (most notably being the director of all three series of The Mighty Boosh), he certainly knows how to create distinctively British humour.
Ben Whishaw shines again as the voice of Paddington, capturing his wonderful childlike naivety and innocence, especially in the heartbreaking prison sequences. The Browns have less to do this time around, being rather overshadowed by the motley crew of criminals Paddington eventually befriends in prison, yet each character brilliant serves their own purpose in the plot. An honourable mention should go to Hugh Grant, who is brilliant in the role of the dastardly narcissist Phoenix Buchanan and who’s BAFTA nomination is well deserved (a tip: pay attention to his framed photos – they’re hard to miss).
My favourite thing about Paddington 2, however, is the message. The film is about family, about the things we do to show our gratitude to the ones we love, how we want to make them proud, and how we don’t want to fail them, but the end of the day if they’re truly family (by blood or not) they’ll love us no matter what. That hit a very personal note for me, and I imagine it did for much of the audience. To say I shed a tear would be an understatement.
Paddington 2 is a funny, sad, exciting and just wonderful film, like coming home to a warm hug. It is best enjoyed with your nearest and dearest… and perhaps a marmalade sandwich or two.