The feel-good children’s movie about an adorable bear in a red hat and raincoat has been regarded as “The Godfather Part II of Peruvian bear movies.” It rightly earns this title, as it has become the best-reviewed film of all time on Rotten Tomatoes. Paul King, director of the Paddington series, had this to say about the record-breaking score:
The Paddington films are a real labour of love. So many people pour their hearts and souls into them for months or even years, hand-crafting every last frame, and we are all incredibly grateful for the overwhelmingly positive response we’ve had so far. We hope it inspires people to go to the cinema to see for themselves if a talking animal film really can be any good, and whether Hugh Grant really can look devilishly handsome even while dressed as a nun. (Clue: yes.)
Paddington’s story began as a book series in the 1950s by Michael Bond. His adventures started with the Peruvian cub being sent to London by his aunt Lucy and adopted by the Brown family. Though the tale of this marmalade-loving bear has taken many forms, the films in recent years have provided adults and children alike with a magical adventure.
Paddington 2 truly is a “labour of love,” and the bear’s latest appearance on screen feels like a warm hug. It mystifies audiences of all ages. From the child sitting behind you, to the old lady in the front row; laughter can be heard from both in equal measure. The CGI bear is woven into live action so intricately that it seems ordinary amongst the actors. Paddington’s comedic clumsiness and naiveté is adorable to witness as he settles into life in London. While this caters to young audiences, adults will also be enthralled by the first-rate action sequences, including a prison break and a locomotive chase.
Paddington’s new and exciting adventure is just as enjoyable as the first, but while it’s equal in heart, it’s greater in art. The story flows through different, bright visual styles as though the audience is being hit by painting after painting, and the narrative reads like the gift our furry friend longs to give to his aunt Lucy: a pop-up book. It would be hard for any film fan not to compare Paddington 2 to the masterful work of director Wes Anderson, with its ever-changing pastel colours, miniaturized sets, and sweets galore.
Ben Whishaw is back as the voice of Paddington. He brings such charm to the character that it’s hard to not walk out of the theatre hoping to improve one’s manners by exclaiming “Aunt Lucy said that if we’re kind and polite, the world will be right.” The importance of family, one of the film’s clear messages, is seen indubitably with the relationship between Paddington and his human caregivers. The Browns, who selflessly welcome him into their home, is composed of an amazing dynamic of acting talents: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Madeleine Harris, and Samuel Joslin. Each of them disappears completely into their characters so authentically that it’s hard to believe that they’re not a real family. It’s impossible to mention that Sally Hawkin’s Mary Brown and Paddington end up underwater, which will make many wonder, reflecting upon The Shape of Water, if it’s in Hawkins’ contract to appear submerged alongside a non-human creature.
The sequel adds several new characters to the mix, like Paddington’s unlikely friend Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson), and, most notably, Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant). Grant plays the film’s antagonist with ludicrous, campy flamboyance. His character is so over the top, he seems almost cartoonish, as he takes on many disguises and lands a hilarious dance number to cap off this perfect spectacle.
Paddington 2 brings many laughs, superb visual ingenuity, and a sincere, unique story with all the warmth that the world needs.
(Featured Image: Paddington 2, Warner Bros. Pictures)