Back for a second outing after a universally well received first foray hit cinemas back in 2014, everyone’s favourite marmalade loving Peruvian Bear returns in a sequel which somehow manages to surpass all expectation by being even better than the original. With Paddington 2, director Paul King offers an utterly charming, beautifully judged and genuinely heartwarming tale of triumph of good over evil. With an all-star cast and a brilliantly thought-out screenplay by Simon Farnaby, with the help of King himself, the film manages to cleverly strike the right balance between appealing to its intended young audiences, as well as to those of us who never really grew out of our love for the famous bear.
Paddington 2 finds the young bear happily settled with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens where he has become the heart and soul of the local community. Making friends and spreading joy to the neighbourhood, Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) feels truly at a home at long last and is only too pleased to lend a helping-hand whenever he is called upon by his family and their neighbours.
While searching for a present for his dear aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, Paddington finds a pop-up book in Mr Gruber (Jim Broadbent)’s antique shop he feels would be ideal for her. Featuring some of London’s most iconic landmarks, the book is however way more costly than our young hero had anticipated. Undeterred by the book’s heavy price tag, Paddington must embarks on a series of odd jobs to help pay for it, resulting in some of the funniest slapstick antics from the lovable cub.
However, when the book is stolen by the dastardly Phoenix Buchanan, played with brilliant comic timing by Hugh Grant, Paddington finds himself accused of the crime and thrown in jail where he is met by a motley crew of violent criminals headed Knuckles McGinty (Bredan Gleeson).
King and Farnaby offer a beautifully put together storyline which is not only packed full of hilariously original gags, and laugh-out-loud physical comedy moments, but they also manage to successfully stay away from the usual pitfalls of trying to please everyone, all the time. Hugh Grant is a true revelation as actor turned evil mastermind Phoenix Buchanan, while the rest of the cast are genuinely thrilling in each role. Sally Hawkins proves yet again that she is as at home in comedy roles, as she in more serious turns while Gleeson is a joy as the hardened criminal who grows to love Paddington as much as like the rest of us.
Paddington 2 is as perfect a film as anyone would have hoped for, it never strays too far from the original source material, but is often more than happy to bring a fresh and modern look to a well-loved story. King does a genuinely impressive directing job by showcasing London with a mixture of familiar verisimilitude, mixed with a heightened-reality and mystique, which one hopes will result in the film being as popular abroad as it is likely to be at home. A genuinely thrilling sequel which is deserving of all the accolade it is likely to have heaped upon it.