Review: Paddington 2
The first Paddington film is a miracle movie. One that earns every laugh and every tear pulled from your eyes. Not just a film about an infinitely cute CGI bear, it was a picture that stressed family above all else and what you must do to fight and protect that unit. A note-perfect family film and a true classic so yes, expectations were high for its sequel. It pleases me to end to report that Paddington 2 takes all the goodwill earned in the first film and never once falters in its ultimate purpose: this adorable bear is here to save us all, only if you let his goofy ass into your heart. Paddington 2 cements these films as top-tier kids’ cinema that deserves to be in the same conversation as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or, more recently, The Lego Movie. Everything that made the previous film so special is here. It is never a diluted, boring retread. It makes good on promises made, creating a place so warm and sincere that it’ll be easy to return to for many years to come.
Paddington’s super power (let’s not joke around here, he’s more powerful than five Avengers combined) is making everyone around him a better person. He remembers the things that make people happy and he nurtures it. He even does this on accident sometimes! Life is better when he is around because of his genuine innocence and top shelf manners game, which he learned from his precious Aunt Lucy. He is guided by her teachings and applies them to the world around him, causing characters and audience members to fall head over heels for this little guy. We learn from the opening scene that Paddington nearly went off a waterfall as a lost cub, until he was saved by Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo. He is an adopted bear who was loved from the moment he was discovered, similar to Mary Brown (played by the beautiful Sally Hawkins) walking up to him at the train station in the first film; there was an instant need to protect this bear at all costs. This undying love is what makes Paddington, it’s the same love he projects back out into his world, seeping into the audience in the process. Paddington, the bear and the film, prove that it is still possible to be beautiful and full of life amongst the darkness that constantly plagues us all daily.
He is sent to prison at one point—prison mind you—and he manages to transform the dismal place into a true place of reform, a place where convicts and the warden are in sync and breakfast is made better with marmalade sandwiches. That is the power of this amazing bear. He makes hardcore inmates fall in line with the Paddy way of life. It’s one of the many joys this film has to offer, believe me.
‘Family First’ is the primary message within both films and the Browns have no weak links amongst them. All function perfectly together, yet possess unique traits that never let them feel flat or unengaging. Most of the heavy lifting was completed in the first film but again, this sequel never misses a beat with this family and all the details that go within them. They ride and fight together, especially if Paddington is in a pickle, and it’s so touching and delightful to see them in action. Of course, they have a nemesis in this film they must defeat and once again the casting department selected a perfect fit for Paddington 2. Hugh Grant playing failed thespian, Phoenix Buchanan, on a quest for riches, makes for a hilarious baddie. With several costume changes, like Cloud Atlas, and a dash of entitled villainy, he is clearly having a ball in his role, chewing up the scenery left and right. I do feel Nicole Kidman had a better villainess in the previous film, but Hugh is no slouch in this chapter. Again, clearly just freewheeling his way through the film and is even given a great credits gag, so definitely stay for that (it happens right away).
Paddington makes us all better. His innocence is pure and unbreakable. He can’t be corrupted, even when things seem to be at their lowest. He has the ability to make his entire block that he lives on content and happy (save for Peter Capaldi’s return as the hilarious Mr. Curry). Paddington 2 is a film that makes all the right choices, is equal to its predecessor, and will last forever as we go back to it decades from now. The ideals that move and drive this bear are ideals worth fighting for and worth protecting. Not that it would ever get this ludicrous, but I would go to Hell and back for Paddington Bear. It would be an honor and a privilege to ever aid my best friend in the whole world.