Paddington 2

*****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Paddington 2
"This is exactly what a sequel should be, respectful, goose bumpy and warm hearted"

Sequels can be a mess. It's a money thing. After the original has warmed the box office sufficiently execs at the studio do the pat-a-back shuffle and say, "Number 2's gonna start on pole, folks. It's a win-win. What's important is bums. Never forget them. On seats. Who cares if the picture sucks?"

There is another way. Follow the story. Same actors continuing from where they left off. Stay with the vibe. Keep the love.

Copy picture

Paddington was critically acclaimed when it came out three years ago, despite a built-in sentimental overload. How could a Peruvian bear speak English and talk like Ben Wishaw?

Oh shut up! Where's your imagination?

Talking of which, let's move to 2 which is stuffed with the stuff. This is exactly what a sequel should be, respectful, goose bumpy and warm hearted.

You appreciate the characters even more second time around because they feel like old friends, especially the Browns who have become Paddington's family in London. Dad (Hugh Bonneville) still believes that most people are up to no good and can't be trusted while Mum (Sally Hawkins) has matured into someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. The kids have grown up into responsible and interesting teenagers, while Paddington is so nice to everyone, with the exception of grumpy Mr Curry (Peter Capaldi) down the road, that life is exactly what it should be in the world of make believe.

A dark cloud, however, in the form of Phoenix Buchanan, appears on the horizon, or rather in their street. He is an actor from the old fashioned luvvie brigade, long past his glory days if, indeed, there were any, and now earning a crust dressed as a spaniel in a dog food commercial.

The inspired plot centres on a children's pop-up book that the antique dealer (Jim Broadbent) has acquired. Paddington wants to buy it for his Aunt Lucy's birthday but has to do odd jobs, such as window cleaning, to save enough money for the purchase. Meanwhile, a burglar steals the book and Paddington is arrested for the crime and sent to jail.

The fun has only just begun. To tell you what happens next would be an offence under the spoiler laws. Let's say Brendan Gleeson as the prison chef is superb and Hugh Grant as Buchanan is hilarious. The story is a whodunit as the Browns are desperate to prove Paddington's innocence and discover the identity of the real thief.

This is where imagination comes in, allowing the bear's personality to captivate with a mixture of innocence and perseverance. Even more than that is the ability of the filmmakers to retain a sense of wonder without losing pace, or face. To find a sequel that embraces the best from its predecessor and then improves upon it is as rare as Tinker's bell.

Magical.

Reviewed on: 08 Nov 2017
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Paddington gets into a scrape over his Aunt Lucy's birthday present.

Director: Paul King

Writer: Simon Farnaby, Paul King, based on the books by Michael Bond

Starring: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Samuel Joslin, Madeleine Harris, Tom Conti, Noah Taylor, Ben Miller, Eileen Atkins, Joanna Lumley, voices of Ben Whishaw, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon

Year: 2017

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: UK, France

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