THIS WARM AND FUZZY SEQUEL IS GENUINE FAMILY FUN!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** ½ out of 4
WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Paddington Bear is back for seconds in Paddington 2
Seriously, why are these movies so good!?! Pretty much that sums up my reaction to both films based on the beloved Paddington Bear children’s books by Michael Bond. I was ready to hate the first film when the trailer debuted and all it showed was Paddington cleaning his ears with electric toothbrushes (Apparently that was enough to sell a movie…k?).
Much to my surprise the film was extremely well-received by critics upon its release which is strange because most live-action films with CGI talking animals usually backfire like Cats & Dogs, the live-action Scooby-Doo movies, and Beverly Hills Chihuahua. But once in a while there’s a Homeward Bound or Babe along the way, and that’s where the first Paddington film fits in, it’s a charming movie through the eyes of a child and as an adult with a likable protagonist, a decent sense of humor, an enjoyable cast, and a sweet story.
I was a little more concerned with the sequel, Paddington 2 because it was a sequel I wasn’t really asking for and thought this was going to be the Paddington movie that would crash and burn. And now I am apologizing to this little bear for even having those expectations to begin with, because Paddington 2 is just as fun as the first one.
It does what all good sequels do, put the characters you loved from the first film into new situations, take the story further and make it bigger, and introduce new characters to grow attached to without rehashing the first movie. Actually, with all seriousness I thought this one was funnier than the first Paddington, which I recall having good jokes and humor but nothing really that memorably funny, this one I was laughing frequently because of its energy, timing, and acting.
The film follows Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw-Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Skyfall, The Lobster), having settled with his new family, the Browns in London, becoming extremely popular in the community, and offering emotional support in various ways to all the people he comes across. One day Paddington visits an antique shop to look for a present for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday and comes across a valuable pop-up book that is apparently worth a lot of money.
So, he decides to perform several odd jobs from working as a barber to cleaning windows to raise enough money to buy the book for his aunt. Unfortunately, Paddington sees that someone has broken into the store and stolen the book, which results in Paddington being framed for robbing it.
His supportive family, Henry Brown (Hugh Bonneville-Iris, Downton Abbey, Twenty Twelve), Mary Brown (Sally Hawkins-Happy-Go-Lucky, Blue Jasmine, The Shape of Water), Judy Brown (Madeleine Harris-Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Being Human, Man Down), and Jonathan Brown (Samuel Joslin) believe that Paddington is innocent and will do whatever it takes to clear his name and find the true culprit. Meanwhile Paddington somehow finds a way to make prison into a fun place (I want that bear now!).
The film also stars Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter franchise, Troy, Edge of Tomorrow) as Nuckles McGinty, Julie Walters (Educating Rita, Dinnerladies, Harry Potter franchise) as Mrs. Bird, Jim Broadbent (Brazil, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Harry Potter 6, 7, and 7.2) as Samuel Gruber, Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who, World War Z, The Fifth Estate) as Mr. Curry, Hugh Grant (Mickey Blue Eyes, Notting Hill, The Pirates!: Band of Misfits) as Phoenix Buchanan, Simon Farnaby (The Mighty Boosh, Jam & Jerusalem, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Barry, Imelda Staunton (Chicken Run, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Pirates!: Band of Misfits) as the voice of Aunt Lucy, Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow, Harry Potter 3-7.2, Victoria & Abdul) as the voice of Uncle Pastuzo, Joanna Lumley (James and the Giant Peach, Corpse Bride, Me Before You) as Felicity Fanshaw, Ben Miller (Armstrong and Miller, Johnny English, Asylum) as Colonel Lancaster, Jessica Hynes (The Royale Family, Shaun of the Dead, W1A) as Miss Kitts, Noah Taylor (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Game of Thrones, Edge of Tomorrow) as Phibs, Eileen Atkins (Gosford Park, Cold Mountain, Last Chance Harvey) as Madame Kozlova, Tom Conti (Reuben, Reuben, Friends, Rosemary’s Baby) as Judge Gerald Biggleswade, Sanjeev Bhaskar (It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, The Indian Doctor, Doctor Who) as Dr. Jafri, and Marie-France Alvarez (Criminal Justice, Albatross, Ransom) as Mademoiselle Dubois.
Overall, Paddington 2 is a funny and charming adventure for the entire family and a sequel to a movie that probably shouldn’t have been that good to begin with. But thanks to its likable characters, impressive production design and animation, and a perfect balance between zany, slapstick-filled, kids humor and morals about family and seeing the good in everyone, they completely surpassed my expectations with the final product.
Paddington is a very likable character, whether you’re a kid or an adult, it’s impossible to not find the appeal of him. Even when things don’t work out for him, it doesn’t stop his upbeat personality and from doing the right thing. Sally Hawkins as Mrs. Brown is hands down one of the best mothers I’ve seen in both movies and television, she goes to these extreme lengths to save her family members no matter how crazy others might see her, you go girl!
I’m not a huge fan of Hugh Grant as an actor but he is an absolute joy to watch in this movie as Phoenix. He’s just hamming it up and it looks like he’s having a great time every time he’s on-screen, got a huge laugh out of me.
The production design of this movie is very eye-catching despite the film taking place in a suburban environment. It’s kind of similar to what Martin Scorsese did with Hugo, they manage to take these real-life environments like the city of London, a train station, and even a prison and make it look like a fairy-tale come to life.
If you’re looking for wholesome family fun at the movies, Paddington 2 might be the marmalade-flavored film for you. The movie was so good I almost forgot I saw the Teen Titans Go! To the Movies trailer prior to it but we’ll see what happens with that movie.