Paddington 2 Review

 Kevin Lewis

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At first glance, Paddington (2015) should not have been a good film. It had all the trappings of terrible kids movie: a CGI character who is annoying and only there for “comedic” fart jokes, lackluster plotlines and cheesy acting, but somehow the film managed to exceed everyone’s expectations. The film about a polite bear who loves marmalade was a genuine delight for all-ages . Unfortunately, the film was not seen by many people here in the States, however, it did manage to find an audience overseas and was successful enough to warrant a sequel. To the many people who did not witness the friendly bear’s first adventure, it would be easy to dismiss another entry in this franchise and for good reason. Most kids films that feature a CGI animal only get worse with each entry; Alvin and the Chipmunks, Yogi Bear and the Scooby Doo just to name a few. Paddington 2, instead, earns the right to stand by some of the greatest sequels ever made: The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight, The Godfather 2. This is not a hyperbole.

The story of Paddington 2 is heartwarming and simple. After being welcomed into the Brown’s family, Paddington is living peacefully in Windsor Gardens when he finds a pop-up book that he wants to purchase for his Aunt Lucy’s birthday. After saving up enough money, the pop-up book is stolen by the conniving Phoenix Buchanan and Paddington is framed for the theft and sent to prison. Again, on the surface,  this film may look hilariously dumb and contrived, but this story is urgent and relevant. On a deeper level, it is a response to the world’s lack of compassion. The film is a celebration of immigrants and the inherit kindness of human nature. While the film is a sort of response to the world’s status, it lacks any kind of political undertone. The only agenda it pushes is the idea of polite positivity.

The message is not the only element the film has going for it, the cast is also filled with some of the best British talent available. The main standout is Hugh Grant (Love Actually, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’ Diary), playing the villain of the film, Phoenix Buchanan. Grant chews up the scenery with his cartoonishly evil character and makes every on screen moment indelible. The other obvious standout is Ben Whishaw (Skyfall, The Danish Girl, and the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns) as the voice of the titular character, Paddington Brown. Whishaw is the heart of this film and the reason the audience cares about this little bear. He avoids making his role as annoying as other CGI characters by fueling Paddington with a heart that is full of kindness. Sally Hawkins also gives a great performance as Mrs. Brown, and after 2017’s The Shape of Water (Hawkins is Oscar nominated) this just shows how versatile she is.

Paddington 2 just broke the record for the most positive reviews for a film with a one-hundred percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so it is safe to say that everyone who has the chance to watch this magnificent sequel will be caught under its charming spell. While the film does not have the most original of plots, the character of Paddington gifts the audience with the essential idea that “if we are kind and polite, the world will be right,” and in a planet that is currently chaotic and spiteful, this immigrant bear from Peru gives us all just a little ray of hope. You can buy a copy of Paddington 2 now on VOD or when it hits store shelves on April 24th. 5/5

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Director: Paul King

Writer: Paul King & Simon Farnaby

Starring: Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, Sally Hawkins, Ben Whishaw and Hugh Bonneville

Rated PG

Running Time: 1hr and 43m

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure