I don’t often cry whilst watching a movie, and yet the follow-up to Paddington moved me so much in its final moments that I couldn’t help but be overcome by the sheer amount of love, sincerity and warmth that infects every single frame of director/writer Paul King’s second tale about a talking bear from Darkest Peru.
Paddington 2 follows Paddington, voiced by the marvellous Ben Whishaw, attempting to raise enough money to buy a book for his aunt for her birthday. However, searching for the same book is Phoenix Buchanan, played by Hugh Grant, a former star actor who is now reduced to dog food commercials. Grain is hilariously vain, wacky and over-the-top in the best way but it never tips over into too much, just like it’s impossible to tire of the kindness of Paddington and the message of love that he stands for. There are occasions in this film, where it was possible the film would turn towards something a bit sadder. However, what was instead chosen was to show the good inside all of us, and to continue along the delightful ride that this movie is — which was certainly the better option.
Alongside Whishaw and Grant, there is an almost ridiculous collection of British actors. Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Michael Gambon, Joanna Lumley and Ben Miller among others. Every actor is completely committed, and each character adds to the message that without love and compassion — the traits Paddington personifies — life is a lot more dull and depressing. Not that this is a depressing film in the slightest — quite the opposite in fact.
No scene sums up Paddington 2 better than when he goes to prison, and comes into the conflict with the fearsome head chef, Knuckles McGinty. In desperation, Paddington shoves a marmalade sandwich into Knuckles’ mouth – and Knuckles is so impressed by the sugary substance that he is convinced to transform the prison menu. This results in every prisoner being allowed to explore their creative side, and suddenly the dark corners of jail are replaced with bright colours, art and flowers. Through the different characters, this film showcases how different types of people can all make connections, and really all it takes is a talking bear to bring joy to anyone’s life.
The film moves with energy – the music is great, there are some top action sequences and Phoenix makes a great villain. And when watching, you’ll never doubt that Paddington is a real character – the computer and voice-work is outstanding. I can’t find a single fault in this film, and I’d recommend it to literally anyone. If you want a film which will just make you feel good about people, no need to go further than Paddington 2.