I was forbidden to see Paddington 2 at the cinema by my partner at the time as she said that a single white male in his forties shouldn’t go alone to see a kids film at the cinema. She probably had a point too, but at the same time I’m not sure I can ever forgive her as I love this film so much and really wish I’d seen it on the big screen along with an audience who were enjoying every second of it.
The first Paddington film surprised audiences and critics by being a enchanting piece, full of innocence and joy, along with a design aesthetic which never ceased to delight. Directed by Paul King, who was responsible for The Mighty Boosh tv series and the underrated Bunny and the Bull, the script was heartwarming in the extreme, and bursting with charm, and that’s once again the case here except that everything that made the first film so great is multiplied to the extent that we have one of the best family films ever made on our hands here.
The story line is a more complicated affair than the first, but that’s not in any way to its detriment, as when a valuable pop up book is stolen somewhat shockingly Paddington (beautifully voiced by Ben Whishaw) is considered the prime suspect and is soon carted off to prison. Of course the Browns, the family who have adopted him, don’t think he’s guilty for a second (or at least the majority don’t), and so work to clear his name as Paddington does his very best to adapt to prison life, making friends with an extremely likeable if motley bunch, before escaping to clear his name.
While Nicole Kidman made for a great villain in the first film, Hugh Grant’s absolutely stunning here. Grant was occasionally mocked back in the nineties for being a little one note in his portrayal of rich young males, something which I always felt was a little unfair, but he’s recently shown his critics just how wrong they were in roles such as Jeremy Thorpe in Russell T.Davies A Very English Scandal, and he’s sublime as the villain of the piece, clearly relishing getting the chance to be deliciously over the top as he’s the epitome of the scoundrel “You’ll love to hate”.
All of the cast are equally as good (though if forced at gunpoint I’d have to say that Brendan Gleeson’s Knuckles may just be my favourite of the non-regular characters), but it’s the central character of Paddington that makes the film so special. An innocent abroad and then some, his kindness, his caring and his warmth makes him quite frankly bloody adorable, and I’d use stronger language bar that it would seem oh so wrong when talking about such a delectable and enchanting fella.
A film which will no doubt be seen as a classic in years to come, it’s sweet in the extreme without ever becoming sickly, and packed with hilarious gags that will make you laugh out loud when you remember them months if not years afterwards. Never less than visually stunning, and swiftly directed so that every scene is essential and without an ounce or even a milligram of fat on it, it’s close to being the perfect kid’s film, albeit one which everyone of any age should also adore.