REVIEW: Paddington 2 is a bear necessity

It’s been a pretty good week for the creators of ‘Paddington 2’. Firstly, the movie received sparkling reviews upon it’s release last Friday, and then news emerged yesterday that the movie has severed ties from the much maligned Weinstein Company after the North American distribution rights were nabbed by Warner Bros.

Paddington, our furry little hero from Peru, is a timely ray of shining generosity and love in this the second edition of his tale. The sequel to 2014’s first instalment is just as charming, amusing and uplifting and includes an extremely talented and extremely British cast.

We return to the life of Paddington (brilliantly voiced by Ben Whishaw), who has now settled with the Browns, and has made friends with many in the community. With his aunt Lucy’s birthday coming up, he plans to find the perfect present for her which turns out to be an old pop-up book of London that he finds in an antique shop.

In order to pay for the book, he tries saving money by working in a barber shop and as a window cleaner which both carry their own comical bout. Just as he is on the brink of having enough saved, the book is stolen from the antique shop and worse yet, Paddington is framed for the robbery. With the help of the Browns as well as those he inevitably makes friends with in prison, Paddington attempts to devise a plan to clear his name and retrieve the book.

Given how much of a pleasant surprise the first Paddington film was, it was certainly going to be a tough task for the second to live up to expectations. But it exceeds them thanks to some more brilliantly put-together comedy sequences, some fine casting and more general joyful, feel-good movie making.

It bears (excuse the pun) reiterating again the brilliance of Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington, who has that soft, friendly tone that so seamlessly goes along with the CGI’d character. It’s difficult to believe that Whishaw was drafted in at the last minute to voise the bear but thank goodness he was. He heads another incredible cast in the second instalment as Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent and Peter Capaldi all return. This time joined by Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson with cameos from Richard Ayoade, Joanna Lumley, Ben Miller and Jessica Hynes.

It’s a brilliant British cast where both Grant and Gleeson are absolutely on top of their acting game. Grant in particular, who plays the failing actor and main villain, Phoenix Buchanan, has certainly resurrected his career and this can be considered as one of his best comic performances.

Grant is just one of the many brilliant comical elements of the movie which playfully rolls by with a number of visually funny gags as well as plenty of witty remarks and jokes.

With that said, director and writer Paul King includes plenty of peril and tension in the movie beneath the comedy, none more so than the climactic underwater escape sequence. As a result of this layer being including in a movie primarily designed for children, Paddington 2 is an all round treasure of a film, rather than just worthy of a few laughs.

But at the centre of this delightful watch is a character who offers a humble message of love and kindness, albeit sometimes in the most calamitous of ways, leaving Paddington 2 a hugely entertaining and charming watch throughout.

 

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