You can never honestly improve on perfection; instead you just make slight variations on how you make it to the end results.
While it admittedly lacks the poignant emotional punch of the first installment; Paddington 2 still packs a delightful punch as it leans into comedic and farce like elements in the story while still doling out some important emotional moments in what just might be (fully understanding the irony of making this statement in January) one of the more completely entertaining films of 2018.
Now fully settled in with the Brown family and a full fledged member of the community, Paddington couldn’t be happier as he brings a little bit of joy to everyone who crosses his path. In honor of Aunt Lucy’s 100th Birthday he decides to pick up a series of odd jobs in order to buy her the perfect birthday present. However there’s treachery afoot as one of the neighbours has gotten wind of Paddington’s plan and the unknown secrets of this gift that he wants to get his Aunt ends up stolen, and Paddington is the prime suspect!
With practically the entire teaming returning for this cinematic installment, the emotional revelations for our favourite bear from the Darkest Peru aren’t quite as poignant as he has his support system installed all around him. However, Paddington 2 allows for the purely comedic nature of these stories to fly as it delves in to a more farcical and flat out comedic affair as Paddington gives us a little moxie and more personality carrying the narrative on the big screen.
Co-Writer/Director Paul King slides back into the material with ease like he never left but as most of our emotional relationships are established already this is more about Paddington as a functional and beloved member of the community. With the seamless visual effects and crisp writing, the cavalcade of Britain’s finest performers who are involved in this franchise is no longer a surprise but a welcome sight as this is material worthy of the talents of everyone involved. It’s not kids fare that talks down to its audience, but it allows the adults in the crowd the freedom to feel like kids again and that’s something we don’t often see enough of in this day and age. All kids want to grow up and be respected but I don’t know of any adults who would be willing to revert back to their younger more naive years if only for a little while. This visual marriage of animation and live action allows us the very freedom to exactly that and then some.
The pure essence of these stories is so simple yet so infectious quite simply because the character of Paddington, while obviously a bear is such a clear cut example of the best of humanity that aspire for our kids to become and even for ourselves to remember. Making this all feel a little more like a roller coaster ride and adventure with somewhat lessened stakes allows for the fun factor to rise up out of the genuine emotion about this fantastic family the Browns and the lengths they’ll go to in order to help their friend. This time out we see that Paddington has friends and makes family everywhere he goes based on how well he treats people is a lesson that needs to be learned by all ages.
Ben Whishaw brings his deadpan earnesty and naiveté the voice of Paddington with such effectiveness that it would just be awkward to hear anyone else doing his voice. The entire family Brown returns with Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins and Julie Walters leading this adorable brood in support of Paddington, in spite of the troubles that he gets into. Peter Capaldi is still around as the local crank Mr. Curry as is the indomitable Jim Broadbent as his friend from the antique shop Mr. Gruber. The big shift this time around is in our villain, as where Nicole Kidman almost had a genuine sense of menace about her in the first film, Hugh Grant as faded actor Phoenix Buchanan was an absolute scene chewing delight going over the top with it all in gleeful abandon like he was the villain in a 1960’s episode of Batman/ Other British acting luminaries like Tom Conti and Joanna Lumley make some token appearances to give it all that much more credence as they all show that’s it’s OK to have a little family friendly fun in the land that gave birth to the likes of William Shakespeare and countless others.
When all is said and done, Paddington 2 won’t get buried into the doldrums that so many sequels with diminishing returns have been confronted with. In fact it will shine as a beacon that pure cinematic entertainment never has to pander to the lowest common denominator. Its high quality and highly accessible fun for anyone who wants to get lost in it all.
- Release Date: 1/12/2018