These days, it seems that so many of the purported ‘feel good’ movies often fall flat, hollow, or end up being simply too formulaic for their own good. So, when Paul King delivered Paddington back in 2014, many of us grumpy naysayers were sceptical about the chances of this rehashing of the famed marmalade sandwich-munching bear being anything more than your usual paint by numbers fodder. But wow, were we wrong. Delivering a charming picture that could warm the heart of even the most cold-hearted cynic, Paddington was an utter delight. So, how can you possibly match or even top that splendid soiree for the Peruvian bear? You’d think it would be an impossible task, but marvellously King has somehow shocked us once more.
Now well and truly at home with the Brown family, trouble is never far away for the iconic Paddington. When a hunt for a suitable birthday present for his Aunt Lucy’s centenary celebration leads him to a pop-up book at the shop of Jim Broadbent’s Mr Gruber, our resourceful little scamp decides to take on a plethora of odd jobs in order to raise some moolah. Of course, being that Paddington is as graceful as a drunk girl you’d find stumbling out of a kebab house at 4am on a weekend, slapstick hilarity is the order of the day. And no, we’re not even being sarcastic, for this is a film overflowing with moments of genuine comedy gold for all the family. Back to the book-buying business though, and that present is taken off the table after the narcissistic Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant) breaks in to Mr Gruber’s and steals the book. After a frantic chase, poor Paddington is framed, arrested, and locked up at Her Majesty’s pleasure. And all of this is barely the opening act of the movie! Prison breaks, fugitivity, redemption, and a whole lot more ensue, as Paul King gives us one of the greatest sequels of recent memory, somehow managing to possibly even surpass the first film in this ongoing franchise.
Much like the original Paddington tales created by the sadly-deceased Michael Bond, Paddington 2 is a heart-warming story that is brimming with slapstick humour and is served by a strong moral compass and sense of acceptance. Never needing to slap its audience around the face with its motifs, this is a deliciously delightful film that will amaze even the most staunch nonbelievers that such a staple of yesteryear could work just as well – if not better – for a new audience in more modern times.
Paddington 2 is one of those rare movies that simply needs to be seen by all. In a world so full of hate and far-too-frequent heinous acts, this is a picture that reminds us of just what it’s like to be a champion of humanity, to embrace each other and our quirks, and to just - quite frankly - be nice to one another. They’re words that would usually be far too cheesy and heave-inducing for us, but sometimes it just takes a marmalade sandwich-eating, duffle coat-adorned Peruvian bear to put you on the right path.
From a personal perspective, your humble scribe found himself amongst those naysayers who expected 2014’s Paddington to be utter tripe that was merely yet another rehashing of something that has some semblance of name value. Having been wowed by that first movie, there was then the usual ‘yeah, but the sequel will be a bust’ logic when it came to somehow having to match up to its predecessors. Boy, how wrong was I. And if I can be won over by this longstanding favourite of a childhood long since forgotten about, you bet you can be too.
Special Features: Audio commentary / ‘Rain on the Roof’ full screen / Featurette / BAFTA Q&A
PADDINGTON 2 / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: PAUL KING / SCREENPLAY: SIMON FARNABY, PAUL KING / STARRING: BEN WHISHAW, HUGH BONNEVILLE, SALLY HAWKINS, HUGH GRANT, BRENDAN GLEESON / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 12TH