The first Paddington movie, based on the beloved children's book series by Michael Bond, took the nation by storm and became a timeless classic amongst many young and old. It was one of the biggest surprises of that year, and even Bond himself said that he ‘slept soundly’, proud of what director Paul King had achieved. Now with Paddington 2, that same level of passion and commitment is still in a film that is equal in quality to its predecessor and comes close to being even better. This has all of the heart, fun, wit and charm of the first movie, and even occasionally builds on that appeal.
The writing is spot on with the comedic moments landing perfectly with real rapid-fire wit, clever gags and endearing quirkiness that doesn't feel like a pale retread of jokes that came before. However, underneath all of the humour is a huge heart and soulful emotional core to this more mystery-oriented story that also has some strong and lovely messages, which are inspiring and touching in equal measure. As well as being endearing and intelligent, this is also beautifully shot and colourfully vibrant in its design work that all adds to its timeless feel, plus the direction helps move things along at a steady pace that never lags once.
The main reason why that heartfelt quality is still there is due to the character of Paddington Bear himself; the CGI work is still as incredible, and Ben Whishaw embodies him perfectly thanks to his innocently poetic vocal tones, which enables Paddington's adorable personality to shine throughout. Apart from Whishaw's Paddington, everyone else gets a chance to excel in their respective parts. Hugh Bonneville perfectly balances drama and comedy with complete and total ease, Sally Hawkins is wonderfully delightful and compassionate, and Julie Walters is still an absolute hoot. Jim Broadbent is a welcome presence as always, Peter Capaldi is brilliantly grouchy, and both Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin both bring youthful energy to their roles. As Knuckles McGinty, Brendan Gleeson brings genuine curmudgeonly charm, as well as great comic timing to the role, while Hugh Grant is absolutely phenomenal and laugh-out-loud funny as the vain, arrogant villain of the movie, resulting in quite possibly one of the best performances of Grant's career.
What Paddington 2 demonstrates is that in the currently messed-up and hectic world we currently live in, we need films like this to remind us how we need something loving to make our lives endearing, akin to the warm message of It's a Wonderful Life. Like the first film, this will leave you with a spring in your step and a warm, fuzzy feeling growing within you, and that's all down to the level of love, passion, creativity and commitment that went into these movies. Also, don't miss the mid-credits scene or you'll regret it massively!
PADDINGTON 2 / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: PAUL KING / SCREENPLAY: PAUL KING, SIMON FARNABY / STARRING: SALLY HAWKINS, HUGH BONNEVILLE, BEN WHISHAW, HUGH GRANT, BRENDAN GLEESON, JIM BROADBENT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected Rating: 8 out of 10