Exit bear, pursued by an actor – Ugh! Best. Line. Ever.

PADDINGTON 2 [2017]

Directed by: Paul King

Written by: Paul King, Simon Farnaby
created by Michael Bond

Featuring
Michael Gambon (Uncle Pastuzo-voice)
Imelda Staunton (Aunt Lucy-voice)
Ben Whishaw (Paddington-voice)
Madeleine Harris (Judy Brown)
Samuel Joslin (Jonathan Brown)
Sally Hawkins (Mary Brown)
Hugh Bonneville (Henry Brown)
Julie Walters (Mrs. Bird)
Jim Broadbent (Mr. Gruber)
Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant)
Brendan Gleeson (Knuckles McGinty)

Paddington the little bear from Peru is now happily living in London with the Brown family. He brings joy and happiness to his local community with his positive outlook, friendly manner and marmalade sandwiches. His latest adventure starts when looking for a present for this Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday he finds a pop-up book in his friend Mr. Gruber’s shop. Having no money Paddington decides to earn some by getting any sort of job but no sooner is he near to having the necessary cash the book is stolen and Paddington is mistaken for the thief. Now it is up to the Brown’s and Paddington’s new friends in prison to prove him innocent, find the real culprit and get the pop-up book for his Aunt.

The first Paddington film, despite trepidation from the viewing public, was a great success, funny for everyone and endearing, almost the perfect children’s film for all the family to enjoy. Would Paddington 2 find the same success or would it turn out to be one bear too many?

Without a doubt, this film is a fabulous children’s film. All the same characters/actors return and feel like a nice comfortable pair of shoes. Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins make great parents of the Brown children and who better to play the anchor in the family Mrs. Bird but the multi-talented Julie Walters? All it needed was an interesting and fun story and a memorable villain. It has these.

Hugh Grant is the star turn as the boo-hiss Phoenix Buchanan a part he clearly relishes playing, perhaps taking from his film-making experiences over the years, who knows? On the flipside, you have the legendary Brendan Gleeson playing the uncompromising Knuckles McGinty and at a stroke, the writers add in two new characters played by good, reliable actors that slot into the on-screen Paddington world perfectly.

The film looks great with the surroundings both familiar to most of us but somehow seemingly childlike with vibrant colours and a mainly bright palette. The script is fun and funny both for the children watching and the older people accompanying them and the pace never drags or slows.

The makers have slipped in worthy messages to the audience about tolerance, kindness and maybe just being nice without being heavy-handed or earnestly ‘preachy’. Odd that some critics of the film take some umbrage at this being suggested to children like it was some sort of bad message to be spreading. The story is touching and not without peril, particularly to the younger film-goers, but this is Paddington 2’s strength. It even has a surprisingly strong moment of serious peril at the end that was both poignant and very sad that seemed to be from a more adult focussed movie before we quickly returned to the more familiar ground of the Paddington 2 story. Watch out for it.

Without going too over-the-top about what is essentially a children’s film, the sequel to Paddington is extremely impressive and ultimately fun particularly when considering the target audience. It seems some have lost sight of this when criticising/reviewing the movie.

Paddington 2 a safe fun night out for children of all ages, sit back, relax and enjoy the world of marmalade sandwiches and the occasional hard-stare.

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