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Paddington 2 – Movie Review

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Paddington 2 – Movie Review

Rating: A- (Great)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Warner Brothers

There was a genuine charm about Paul King’s first film adaptation of Michael Bond’s Paddington books that allowed it to be a winning experience for the entire family. For the sequel, he has expanded and continued the ideas of kindness and crafted a superior follow-up. This is the sort of movie that is needed more in today’s society, celebrating those that seek to make the world a better and friendlier place with their presence. Thus, Paddington Bear becomes one of the best screen heroes with his only weapon being a hard stare. Placing him in a story with both excellent British humour and a real mystery allows Paddington 2 to be extra special.

While the first film primarily focused on Paddington and his newfound friendship with the Brown Family, the sequel opens up Winsor Gardens and we see how the street has evolved with the addition of that little bear. King directs the early sequences with the proper flourish and enchantment, as aided by Dario Marianelli’s charming score. The animators have made Paddington even more expressive, thus further adding to the slapstick scenes. There is almost a Chaplin-esque quality in how Paddington moves, with the highlight being a barbershop sequence. That Paddington 2 later pays direct homage to Charlie Chaplin is no coincidence. King and his co-writer Simon Farnaby establish character traits early on that pay off marvelously lately, which is a credit to how carefully structured their screenplay is.

When Paddington is wrongfully sentenced to prison, King even brings a level of wonderment to those scenes. Rather than going for clichéd prison jokes, the new setting is taken full advantage of in showing Paddington dealing with life behind bars. Brendan Gleeson’s role as the jail’s cook is well developed with some fantastic interaction between him and Paddington. There is a clear Wes Anderson influence with how King and director of photography Erik Wilson frames the shots and costume designer Lindy Hemming also deserves mention for the inmate jumpsuits. A lot of humour is also gained from the additional plot of the Browns trying to prove his innocence, with Sally Hawkins given even more to do this time around. Hawkins might be one of the most expressive actresses working together, as also proven by The Shape of Water, and she is delightful as Mrs. Brown.

Hugh Grant is also clearly enjoying himself as Paddington 2’s villain, a egotistical actor who takes on multiple roles. Phoenix Buchanan is a character that allows Grant to cut loose and he doesn’t play him like a traditional movie villain. Meanwhile, Ben Whishaw brings a warmth to Paddington’s voice, Peter Capaldi gets Mr. Curry’s grumpy side down and High Bonneville is the ideal straight man of the Brown Family. All of these talents, both on-screen and behind the scenes, add to the sweetness of the whole production. Paul King even throws in a lovely homage to the classic stop-motion Paddington animated series.

Films like Paddington 2 are the ones we should continue to treasure. It is the sort of optimistic and big hearted entertainment we could use more of in a world full of cynicism and distrust. Paul King and his team have crafted a film that celebrates kindness above all else and continues the spirit begun in Michael Bond’s beloved books. Every scene is beautifully crafted with the utmost love and it’s clear how much everyone involved has a clear adoration and appreciation for these characters. It will be hard not to smile through large portions of Paddington 2 and that’s why the emotions are earned. It begs the question why we need movies like Killing of a Sacred Deer, when Paddington 2 exists to brighten our day.


Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison