Paddington 2: A Jolly Good Sequel
Review by Aaron Haughton
January has long been known as the dump month for films, and amongst the litter and debris of January's crummy offers, a quality film is a rare exception. Such is Paddington 2, a delightful and charming family-friendly feature that is here to deliver us salvation during the dump month depression. The film is brimming with warmth and cheer and will plant a smile so firmly on your face that you'll still be wearing it as you exit the theater.
Paddington 2 finds Paddington happily settled with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens, where he has become a popular member of the community, spreading joy and marmalade wherever he goes. While searching for the perfect present for his beloved Aunt Lucy's hundredth birthday, Paddington spots a unique pop-up book in an antique shop, and embarks upon a series of odd jobs to buy it. But when the book is mysteriously stolen, it's up to Paddington and the Browns to unmask the thief.
I was surprised at just how much I loved the first Paddington film, and I was worried that the sequel would sink below my expectations; however, that wasn't the case at all. Paddington 2 — or Paddington Goes To Prison, as I like to call it — is as irresistibly good, if not better, than its predecessor. As far as sequels go, P2 ranks amongst the best. It feels like a cozy blanket, and it's warm and witty in ways that seems to be lacking from most children's films. Like last year's Brigsby Bear, the film is lighthearted, devoid of any true cynicism, and has its heart in the right place. And it's very obvious that a lot of care and attention went into every aspect of crafting this sequel, and while it's not wholly unique, it's a true pleasure to behold.
The obvious attribute to the Paddington films' charisma is their undeniable Wes Anderson vibe, which permeates through the sets, costumes and direction. This stylistic borrowing or homage is less prevalent in the second installment; however, the similarities to Grand Budapest Hotel can't totally be ignored. P2 finds director Paul King coming more into his own, less likely to lean too heavily on the Anderson aesthetic. Even though some aspects may feel slightly borrowed or familiar, the film never feels entirely derivative, and has the kind of heart thumping in its chest that only one Paddington Bear can bring to the table.
Stepping in to fill the shoes of Nicole Kidman's villain is Hugh Grant as Phoenix Buchanan, a washed up thespian who is desperately trying to stay relevant. Grant's character disguises himself in many manners of attire, including a nun, and even talks to himself using various theatrical personas. This makes for more entertaining and animated villainy than Kidman's Millicent, and may be the resurgence Grant's career has been waiting for. PS: he does a musical number à la Mel Brooks during the end credits, so don't leave your seat!
The film's third act is one that cements it into the book of great sequels. It offers a bit of everything: thrills, laughs, and a whole lot of feels. Its central message is one of family, community, and the golden rule: treat others as you'd like to be treated. It's everything a kids film should be with a dollop of marmalade on top: adorable, wholesome, smart and fun. It packs some lighthearted laughs, family-friendly fun, and quality action/adventure thrills. It's hands down the best movie going experience you'll get during the dump days of January, and one you should not pass up.
Rating: 4.5 orange squeezers outta 5.
What did you think of the film? Was it as good as the original? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!