Movie Review: Paddington 2

Adults may be tempted to sneak into this charming children’s film

Paddington 2
Directed by Paul King
With Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Hugh Grant, Ben Whishaw

Just in time for the holidays, the lovable bear Paddington returns in Paddington2. This time, he is living with the Brown family in London and he has made friends all over the neighborhood. But he is still prone to accidentally get into trouble.

The film mixes live action with a convincingly animated young bear, typically seen in a floppy red hat and blue jacket. The animation of the bear is quite convincing, with detailed fur and a wide range of expressions.

The little bear Paddington is very well-intentioned, but a bit clumsy. He wants to make some money to buy a gift for his aunt, a bear named Lucy who lives in Peru. Among the odd jobs, he tries is sweeping up in a barbershop, which he in short time manages to destroy while at the same time botching a haircut on a character who will later become important in the plot.

But he finds his niche eventually as a window washer, after some more slapstick humor. The audience for the Paddington films is obviously small children. The filmmakers were careful not to make the disasters too scary and also to show that even though Paddington makes mistakes, he means well and he learns, so it is all good in the end.

The film is more than just a series of comic misadventures. The plot is pretty strong. Paddington wants to buy an antique pop-up book, but he lets some details slip and a washed-up actor named Phoenix Buchanan (played by Hugh Grant) realizes it is the key to finding a lost treasure.

From there, the plot splits up with Phoenix committing a series of crimes and Paddington falsely accused since he was seen near a crime scene.

The live action features several top actors who all get in the proper spirit. Hugh Grant hams it up, making fun of vain actors but also enjoying the chance to wear various disguises and even doing some song and dance.

Brendan Gleeson shows his versatility as a mean chef, but someone with a heart underneath. He is suitably impressed by one of Paddington’s marmalade sandwiches. He often plays villains and hard-edged characters, such as the patriarch in Trespass Against Us or tough guy roles in In Bruges, Mission: Impossible 2, Gangs of New York and Assassin’s Creed. He takes his scariness down a few notches, finding the proper comic balance.

The always reliable Jim Broadbent has a small but crucial role as the owner of an antique store.

The main roles are for Paddington’s adoptive parents, played by Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins.

Hugh Bonneville had a big role in Downton Abbey. Hawkins is best-known for her lead role in Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky. They rally to come to Paddington’s rescue when he needs it, but are almost as clumsy as Paddington.

The story holds up and doesn’t feel like a sequel that was churned out because everyone thought they could make a quick buck. The attention to detail is evident throughout the film, from an animated sequence of Paddington wandering through the pop-up book to a flight in a hot air balloon.

The filmmakers also thankfully didn’t make it a Christmas-themed film full of holiday cliches, so people can have a momentary escape from all of the advertising that can become a bit overwhelming this time of year.

The intended audience is children, but adults may find themselves tempted to see it anyway, even without kids in tow. There is enough humor that works for adults to make it worthwhile, and seeing some top actors doing broad parodies of their typical characters is quite a bit of fun.

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