The first “Paddington” film was released in 2014 and it became one of the most successful children’s films ever. A bona fide hit around the world, but “Paddington 2” tops the first one or pure pleasure.
Directed by Paul King, the film follows the adorable and extremely polite marmalade sandwich-eating bear, who has become a member of the community after moving in with the Brown family who rescued him from Paddington Station in London. Voiced brilliantly by Ben Whishaw, the Peruvian bear finds himself searching for employment to pay for the perfect gift for his dear Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday. Some of the odd jobs include comically trying to become a window washer, which has hilarious but disastrous results. He is determined none the less to make just enough money to buy a pop-up book of London that he spies in a
Sadly, a suspicious bearded man, on a bicycle, steals it away, leaving Paddington to try to track him down. Gasp, he gets framed and thrown into prison himself, where the film follows his adventures trying to fit in with the other inmates, particularly the grumpy cook Knuckles (Brendan Gleeson). He shares his magic recipe for those marmalade sandwiches—much better than prison slop. These exchanges are fun, and the Brown family, which includes characters voiced by Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins and Julie Waters, pay him visits. Soon our beloved bear gets involved in a prison break and flees prison.
Meanwhile, a new villain is introduced in the form of the Browns’ neighbor, Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant), a self-absorbed entertainer and master of disguise who—gasp—turns out to be the guy who stole the pop-up book. It’s all about money, and the financial reason Buchanan wanted to get his hands on this particular book is revealed. Eventually, with the help of the Browns, Paddington is back on his tail and in pursuit of justice. Grant is perfectly cast here, playing the would-be musical star for all its worth and fitting into the villain shoes that Nicole Kidman “wore” so deliciously in the first film.
It is a very charming children’s film that is intelligent enough not to talk down to the audience. To that end, it’s a great family film. The screenplay is perfectly faithful in tone and style to the 1958 Michael Bond series of books.