“Paddington 2” deserves a gushing headline. After having solved the filmmaking problem of “rave critical reviews + glowing audience response = success” with “Paddington” in 2015, much of the same creative team is back for a sequel that improves upon its impressive original installment.
Paddington the friendly bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is surrounded by a veritable Who’s Who of treasured British actors who are so clearly “all-in” on the film it’s infectious. Sally Hawkins (“The Shape of Water”) and Hugh Bonneville star as Mary and Henry Brown; the couple who took Paddington in as a member of their family in the first installment. Paddington has grown into his own and become a valued member of the community, filled the likes of Jim Broadbent, Tom Conti, Julie Waters, Peter Capaldi, Richard Ayoade, and Joanna Lumley, among others.
Paddington meets this talented cast while working a series of odd jobs so he can afford to buy the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday. But when the gift gets stolen and he’s framed for the theft, he has to rely on his friends and family to help clear his good name.
The big baddie who actually did the dastardly deed is Phoenix Buchanan, gleefully played by Hugh Grant who also steals most scenes. But Paddington has a whole prison full of new friends out to nab Buchanan, headed by hard-nosed cook Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson), because no matter where Paddington goes, he makes friends, and adventure follows.
“Paddington 2” boasts a great message, earnest performances, and a script so tight that Rian Johnson should be taking notes: even supporting characters get back-stories, motivation, and satisfying arcs of their own. What a concept!
It’s not only an obvious family-friendly outing, but also a film that could serve well as the center of an adult date-night. And it’s all done with a joyful smile and a PG rating (for action and mild rude humor; however, I think the worst thing said in the film is “Oh, bottoms!”). It’s a film that will definitely be on my eventual list of Best Movies of 2018.
If you go, stick around through the start of the credits for an epilogue, but there’s no need to stay until the end of the roll. Paddington is so polite, he wouldn’t make your little ones sit for too long.
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: January 11, 2018
Genre: Family Adventure
Runtime: 1 hrs. 43 min.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some action and mild rude humor.