Director: Paul King
Cast: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon and Hugh Grant
Plot: Paddington (Whishaw) is framed for a crime and sent to prison, hoping that his good nature will help lead people to the truth.
Paddington came along and blew how to make a family adventure movie out of the water. The truth was to not worry about the big stuff and put your focus on the little things. Paul King, still the director but, in all honesty, who else would suit the job, does that with fine action here. The title screen to Paddington is simply the animated character writing on a frosted window. The cameo performances are all have little character arcs. Detail to character are keenly focused, so Hugh Bonneville doesn’t randomly jump personalities since we last saw him. Paddington 2 is a finely made film and not at all threatened at the thought of being a sequel.
And in not fearing the producers, Paul King has made the film we all wanted to see. There is a sense that Paul King is directing a middle of the pack television episode for a series, but granted a 103 minute run time and a budget of 95 million. The story is as follows: Paddington wants to buy his aunt a present, but needs to save up money. Meanwhile, someone else, a wonderfully dastardly Hugh Grant, is also out to steal that same present for nefarious gain. The two storylines collide wonderfully, including seeing Paddington get thrown into a maximum-security jail cell. There are, of course, some bigger sequel ideas on display here. The set-pieces are larger (the final fight takes place on a train, ripped straight out of a Bond movie), and the movie has stretched out to get some more plentiful cameos. But there is always the idea that there is a good reason why the movie has ended up in a particular spot. For example, putting Paddington into a prison setting feels like a good excuse to drum up the stakes. But in all honesty, it is actually more of a genuine interest to see the polite Paddington Bear in a prison environment. Cue Paddington trying to speak to his fellow inmates about the décor and kitchen menu. At the same time, we are not rushing to get to the good bit where Paddington ends up in a cell. There are plenty of moments where Paddington is simply trying his hand at a varying amount of jobs, striving to make some money. Any sequel eager for approval wouldn’t spend prolonged scenes where the lead character works at a barber’s or washes windows. But this is a movie definitely made better for it. The laughs are real and do not feel like a slave to circumstance. It makes this a great film to simply settle into, pleasantly knowing what you will expect, but not in a rigid way, where nothing surprises you. Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins search an apartment in their pyjamas. Paddington rides a dog like a horse. Sometimes, it is simply the charming politeness of Whishaw. It all works so well like a finely oiled machine. If you loved the first one, you will not be disappointed with this wonderful sequel.
Final Verdict: Taking what was so heart-warming about the original and applying it to the next one. It works a treat.