Paddington 2, rated PG
Paddington 2 is a funny, entertaining, and delightful family friendly film. The film is well-written, features an excellent cast, and may be the rare sequel that improves on the first (2014) film. The film is directed by Paul King (Paddington) and written by King and Simon Farnaby, based on characters created by the author Michael Bond. The film is dedicated to Bond, who died in 2017 at the age of 91.
The film opens with a flashback that takes us “Many bears ago” in “darkest Peru”. We see a young Paddington, digitally animated and wonderfully voiced by Ben Whishaw, and the kind older bears that raised him. He remains dedicated to both Aunt Lucy, voiced by Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake) and Uncle Pastuzo, voiced by Golden Globe nominee Michael Gambon (Path to War), even though he now lives far away in the Notting Hill area of London with the Browns. In the Brown family home are parents Henry, portrayed by Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) and Mary, portrayed by Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine). Their children have grown up since we’ve last seen them. Steam engines are no longer cool for Jonathan, played by Samuel Joslin, who now wants to be known as J-Dawg. Daughter Judy, played by Madeleine Harris, after a broken relationship, has now started a newspaper on her own printing press. Mrs. Bird is portrayed by two-time Oscar nominee Julie Walters (Billy Elliot, Educating Rita).
Paddington fits in well with the Brown family and the neighborhood, and is loved by all, except for the hostile neighbor Mr. Curry, played by Oscar winner Peter Capaldi (Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life).
Oscar winner Jim Broadbent (Iris) plays Paddington’s friend, the kind antiques dealer Mr. Gruber. He has a rare pop-up book in which Paddington’s beloved London comes to life, thanks to production designer Garry Williamson.
Paddington sees the book as the perfect birthday present for his dear Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, who had always planned to come to London, but never got the opportunity. But the book is rare and expensive, and Paddington doesn’t have the money to purchase it. So, he decides to get a job to earn the money to purchase the book. We see him work at washing dogs, as an attendant in a barber shop, and when that doesn’t work out so well, he decides to go into a window washing business.
The pop-up book is also desired, for other reasons, by the film’s villain Phoenix Buchanan, well portrayed by Golden Globe winner Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and a Funeral). Buchanan, a former star actor, is now more well-known for doing dog food commercials. He finds out about the book from Paddington when the two meet at a local carnival that Buchanan has been hired to open. Grant leads a strong cast and is excellent as the villain Buchanan, taking on multiple disguises.
When Buchanan breaks into Gruber’s shop to steal the book, Paddington pursues him, but when Buchanan disappears, Paddington finds himself arrested, and soon after sent to prison, for the theft. In prison, we see Paddington befriend prisoners, such as the crusty cook Nuckles McGinty, played by three-time Golden Globe nominee Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges). Meanwhile, the Brown family, who knows Paddington has been falsely accused, tries to solve the mystery of who stole the book from Mr. Gruber’s shop so they can free Paddington.
King creatively uses slapstick, animated sequences, and plenty of funny moments in this enjoyable film. I also loved the many scenes of London portrayed in the film. The film has many positive themes including the importance of family and friends, hard work, thinking of others before yourself, and seeing the best in everyone. Paddington lives his life thinking about what his Aunt Lucy would do in various situations, and often sharing something that he was taught by her, such as “If we’re kind and polite, the world will be right”. A good thought indeed.
Content concerns are minimal in this delightful film, with just a brief indication that an unmarried couple has spent the night together. This might have been included to get the PG rating vs. a G rating. When other children’s films stoop to including double entendres, sexual innuendo, swearing and bathroom humor for cheap laughs (seen in the preview for the upcoming film ‘Sherlock Gnomes‘), this film is well-written and includes great messages.
I can’t remember when I’ve had more fun watching a movie. Paddington 2 is that rare film that will be enjoyed by both adults and children. Highly recommended!