Paddington 2 – movie review

by James Robins / 15 January, 2018

Returning to its heartening roots, the sequel to Paddington doesn’t disappoint.

Paddington, released three years ago, was a rare treat. A genuinely uplifting tale, it sent viewers out of the cinema feeling thoroughly charmed. That wee immigrant bear in a red felt hat (perfectly voiced by Ben Whishaw), his suitcase stuffed with marmalade and a weaponised “hard stare” at the ready, filled hearts with tenderness.

It was damn funny, too, with a riot of chaotic slapstick and good-natured jokes crammed into every available moment, and directed with almost magical visual inventiveness. No wonder I’ve been awaiting Paddington 2 with even more trepidation and anxiety than I had for the new Star Wars.

The sequel finds Paddington settled in with the Brown family in a London that is a shining vision of diversity and friendliness. He’s determined to send his aunt – still languishing in “darkest Peru” – a pop-up book of the city’s attractions. Foiling this plan is Hugh Grant, playing with aplomb a greasy second-rate actor who stitches up the innocent bear and sends him to the slammer.

We spend a lot of time away from the Brown home and, therefore, sadly, from Sally Hawkins, who as Mrs Brown is a vision of kindness. The film never quite attains the same degree of boundless energy as its predecessor, its tone shifting to something more mature, and quite a few ironic gags may soar over the heads of a younger audience.

But just when you fear Paddington 2 may have got too big for its blue duffel coat, it returns to its heartening roots. That imperishable sweetness survives, after all.

IN CINEMAS

★★★1/2

Video: STUDIOCANAL New Zealand

This article was first published in the December 23, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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