If the quality could be maintained, it would be lovely to open each new movie year with a Paddington movie
Paddington 2 brings the same sharpness of detail, sense of whimsy, and whiff of danger that made Paddington a global hit.
Paddington’s Aunt Lucy (voiced by Imelda Staunton) is coming up on her 100th birthday and Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is determined to find her the perfect birthday present.
In his search, he comes across a one of a kind pop-up book of twelve of London’s greatest landmarks. Unknown to him, the book is the key to finding the treasure of Madame Kozlova – long thought lost. Gruber’s antiques, it seems, is a wonderland of fascinating antique oddities.
Unfortunately, after earning almost enough money to buy the book (as a unique washer of windows), Paddington walks by Gruber’s Antiques just as the villain (and deliberate maple-cured ham), down on his luck actor/magician Phoenix Buchanan (a deliberately hammy Hugh Grant) is stealing the book.
When he pursues the thief, Paddington is mistakenly arrested for the theft and winds up in jail – where he uses Aunt Lucy’s recipe for marmalade to make friends of the hardened criminals he’s stuck with (after having accidentally turned their uniforms pink, his marmalade really saves his neck).
With the help of four of his new friends – Nuckles (Brendan Gleason), T-Bone (Tom Davis), Phibs (Noah Taylor) and Spoon (Aaron Neil) – he breaks out and sets out to clear his name and thwart Buchanan.
At the same time, the Brown family – mother Mary (Sally Hawkins), father Harry (Hugh Bonneville), and children Judy (Madelaine Harris) and Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) and Mary’s mother Mrs. Bird (Julie Walters) – are also trying to prove his innocence.
Writer Simon Farnaby and director Paul King have concocted a charming, witty adventure for everyone’s favorite Peruvian bear – at times calling to mind a G-rated version of Monty Python and/or Wes Anderson with the film’s aesthetics and unexpected moments of pure delight.
There’s plenty of action (one of the most original chase sequences I’ve ever seen; speeding steam engines and rooftop chases) and silliness for the kids and equally as much charm and wit for the adults (who will also love the action sequences).
Also, there’s not a cynical bone in Paddington 2’s body – and (not really a spoiler) Aunt Lucy gets a wonderful birthday gift.
At a relatively lean 143 minutes, Paddington 2 is genuinely fun for the whole family.
Final Grade: A+