Amongst all the doom and gloom of the modern age, one hero has risen above it all to remind us that the world can be made a better place through simply remembering your manners.
Paddington 2 (2017) is a live-action/CGI hybrid adventure comedy written and directed by Paul King (Paddington). It once again stars Ben Whishaw as Peruvian Bear immigrant Paddington as he continues to live with the Browns. But after attempting to stop a burglar at his frequented antique shop, Paddington is incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit and the Browns must step up to catch the mysterious culprit.
The best way to describe this film is utterly utterly utterly delightful. This movie is a shining beacon of optimism and kindness in an increasingly cynical world. The plot is simple and straightforward, but lends itself towards encouraging Paddington’s ideals – finding in the good in people, remembering your manners and making the best of bad situations and people. My only possible quibble involves the third act leaning a little too far into generic Hollywood territory but that aside I have no qualms with how the fanciful little tale pans out.
This is mostly down to how charmingly its told. Paddington 2 is oh-so British not only in design but also quaintness and humour, and there’s enough clever gags and silly slapstick to make Monty Python proud. From huge laugh out loud moments to clever background puns only a select few might notice, the film’s style manages to appeal to almost everyone without feeling bland and flat. This is bolstered by a visual design that seems to lovingly homage Wes Anderson at every turn. Warm, soft colour palettes, symmetrical shots and clever perspectives are consistently the order of business and this elevates the natural comedy and charm of the film to another level entirely.
Much like the rest of the film the cast is just as endearing and likeable. Ben Whishaw as Paddington is utterly perfect – at this point it’d be impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. He exudes so much innocence and charm in every delivery and he makes it impossible not to fall in love with Paddington and how he sees the world. All the returning cast of the Browns such as Sally Hawkins and Hugh Bonneville are all just as excellent, managing to both deliver on the comedy and drama whenever the film requires them to. But the true star of the film is the surprise of Hugh Grant as the villain. A traditional British actor mostly known for his rom-coms, seeing Grant take the role of one-man-show Phoenix Buchanan (as well as his multiple alter egos) is an utter delight. He’s so unhinged and egotistic while also being weirdly lovable at the same time that he (ironically enough) commands the screen whenever he makes an appearance.
Paddington 2 is much like the best marmalade sandwich ever. Simple, not particularly groundbreaking but incredibly sweet and able to be enjoyed by all, this is a film that reminds us, irrespective of the dark places we find ourselves, there’s a little good in everyone. And that simple message makes the world a little more of a bearable place to be.
General Audiences: Must-see
Film Buffs: Highly Recommended