It’s never easy going to a movie that is clearly geared towards a younger audience alone but knowing that Paddington 2 (2017) would be leaving my local theater, I took the chance. The CG bear surprised me with his first movie, so I deemed it necessary to see the sequel on the big screen. This movie is a fun, wholesome adventure with a loveable lead character that proves a CG character can work with a live action cast.
Paddington 2 worked as well as the first
Paddington (Ben Whishaw) has now established himself as a member of the Brown family. His local community relies on him for a variety of little things, like bringing breakfast, reminding them about their keys, and a variety of other adorable tasks. Paddington’s Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) is about to turn 100, and he is determined to find the perfect gift. Luckily, one of his friends, Mr. Gruber (Jim Broadbent) has just obtained a bunch of collectibles from a visiting carnival, and among these collectibles happens to be the perfect gift, a pop-up book. Of course, there are a few snags with Paddington’s ability to purchase the pop-up book.
The live action cast is fantastic in this film. One of the best among them is Brendan Gleeson, who plays the prison chef, Knuckles McGinty. He is likely the scariest person Paddington encounters, but even the brooding prisoner can’t resist the cute little bear and his marmalade. While Gleeson is usually great anyways, his role and transformation in this film is excellent. The marmalade-making scene he’s in is so funny and endearing that it stands out as a highlight.
Sally Hawkins and Hugh Bonneville as Mr. and Mrs. Brown are also great in their return. Hawkins really shines here, though after seeing Shape of Water it was odd hearing her. Thanks to director Paul King, these two characters get a little bit of an update to what they’ve been doing since the last film, which really pays off throughout the story as they are looking to solve the big mystery in the film while Paddington is stuck in prison.
That’s where the best performance comes in: Hugh Grant. Grant plays Phoenix Buchanan, an aging actor looking to get his career going again. Phoenix is the movie’s main antagonist, but he is such a cartoon character that Grant really gets to stretch his acting legs quite a bit. He gets so much to do and succeeds in bringing charm and laughs whenever he is on screen.
The film ends perfectly and managed to get a few tears and several laughs from me as payment. It’s definitely one of the better family movies that have come out this year. If you’ve slept on these films, it’s time to make yourself a sandwich, hide it under your hat, and head to the nearest theater still playing Padding 2. It earns the Must See rating.