Paddington 2 is a live-action/CGI animated comedy film directed by Paul King and written by King and Simon Farnaby. It is based on the stories of the character Paddington Bear created by Michael Bond and is the sequel to the 2014 film Paddington (review here). The film stars Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington, with Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, and Hugh Grant in live-action roles.
The Story/The Direction:
After moving in with the Brown family in the prior film, Paddington has become a very popular member of the community who brings happiness and marmalade to everyone around him. His Aunt Lucy's 100th birthday is coming up and Paddington must find a gift for her. He finds a London pop-up book that is the perfect gift for the bear who always wanted to visit London. Unfortunately, it is very expensive and Paddington has only one coin to his name. He starts to find work but one night on his way home, he sees someone breaking into the antique store to steal the pop-up book. He chases after the culprit and is ultimately framed and sent to prison. While in prison, his family tries to track down who actually store the book and mystery of the book itself. The plot is pleasingly straightforward and that is not a bad thing.
Returning director King once again shows the city of London as a very friendly place but also one that has adventure and danger. He is able to create a film that has real tension while being for children. The film looks fantastic with the highlight being the pop-up book sequence but the special effects that are mostly flawless. The pop-up book scene is clearly influenced by Wes Anderson and it is absolutely brilliant. The film on a whole is visually and emotionally pleasing. The film is hilarious on many levels but it does not overdo it. The film does not try to be more than the titular character, simple. Paddington is a bear who only wants to get a gift for his aunt and spread joy and this film embodies that.
Like the first film, Wishaw is wonderful as Paddington and the live-action cast is a lot of fun to see. The majority of the cast is returning with Grant, Broadbent, and Gleeson joining them. Gleeson, as always, is a pleasure to see especially in "tough guy" roles. He plays the cook of the prison who commands the prison with his anger and hilariously misspelled tattoos. The star of this film, however, is Grant as Phoenix Buchanan. Buchanan is an actor who has fallen from grace and now stars in dog food commercials. Grant is absolutely fantastic playing this character and he is the only part of the film that feels over the top but not in a bad way. His character is over the top but that is who he is as a character. It does not expand outside of the film itself. Grant is able to embody this role and soars with it.
While the majority of the film looked fantastic, there were times where the CGI faltered a bit. It does not take away from the overall experience but it was noticeable. In addition, this film seemed to focus more on the human side of the story and Paddington was pushed to the side. While this did allow for some fantastic scenes in the prison, Paddington was not the focus of the film as the title would imply. Furthermore, as a film that is more focused on the human aspect, it did not develop the characters in the best way. Each character is given one scene to establish their background and that's all but each is fantastic to see on screen.
Like the first, this film shows that even if a film is simple, it can be good. However, this film takes that and makes it better. It takes a successful film and expands on it which makes it a great sequel. It takes the immigrant message of the first film and takes it to new heights. It is not preachy in any way and will allow children to have conversations with their parents about this topic. The police target the one "who looks like a criminal" more than a person who doesn't which is clearly the wrong thing to do. Paddington's neighborhood is made up of diverse and multicultural characters and Paddington says, “If we’re kind and polite, the world will be right.” Even if an audience member does not attach to these messages, the film is an absolute joy and will be one of the best in 2018. This amazing film is worth seeing in theatres and also watching at home again and again.
Rating: 4.5/5.0 bowties
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