The trailer for the first Paddington (2014), looked like everything wrong with modern family films. Taking a beloved literary character and turning him into nothing more than a bumbling buffoon in an unnecessarily slapstick comedy, entirely played for laughs, whilst losing all the charm and warmth of the character. Oh how wrong this initial assessment was! Paddington turned out to be an absolute delight, its true nature masked by its somewhat misleading trailer, and it proved to be a surprise hit.
Word started to spread, not just through the target family audience, but movie aficionados and cinephiles everywhere found it impossible not to be charmed by the marmalade-loving bear from deepest, darkest Peru. Now with the sequel – the cream of the British acting crop seemingly falling over themselves to land a role in it – expectations are incredibly high, and there’s an awful lot on the little bear’s shoulders to triumph again.
Fortunately, Paddington 2 not only lives up to these high expectations, but it is a veritable joy from start to finish, possibly even surpassing the heights of the first film. With the Brown family now familiar faces, and Paddington having already won our hearts, it simply needs to do “more of the same”; this sequel does just that, easily ticking this box whilst also offering something new.
Aside from one very memorable scene in a barbershop, it tones down the slapstick and the silly a little bit, instead going for a sleuthing, mystery-solving vibe. It has that sense of an old-fashioned caper, and you’d be hard-pressed to find another film this year which will delight viewers of all ages as much as this one. Maintaining the fact you only won’t enjoy this film if you don’t have a soul, Paddington 2 is a big, warm hug of a film. Perpetually delightful and packed with lovely messages about recognising the good in people, the importance of unity, family and friendship, and the good old sensibility of right and wrong, this is pure cinematic escapism, and a colourful, well-meaning distraction from the woes of the world.
The returning cast members are still supremely wonderful, in particular Sally Hawkins and Hugh Bonneville. With Bonneville in particular proving he has some of the finest, unexpected comedy chops, and Hawkins being just her wonderful, kooky self, they have a believable relationship and wonderful chemistry. Reading like a veritable who’s who of the best British acting talent, the highlight of the new cast members is undoubtedly Hugh Grant. Sending up himself, and hamming it up to eleven, he takes great joy in playing the moustache-twirling villain. He’s been on really fine form recently after his arguably career-best performance in Florence Foster Jenkins, and this more overtly comedic role in Paddington 2 is further proof that he’s still got it!
As was the case in the first movie, the CGI work is absolutely flawless. Paddington feels like a living, breathing thing, and the interaction between him and the human characters looks and feels seamless.
I saw this movie and you should too. As the cold winter nights are coming in, Paddington 2 is the cinematic equivalent of a comforting mug of hot chocolate and your favourite fluffy slippers. Utterly enchanting for all ages, it is thrilling, laugh-out-loud funny and somehow managing to be as delightful as the first film; more than living up to the high bar it set. Lets hope the success of the sequel means we’ll be seeing plenty more of this blue-coated bear in the future.