PG – 103mins – 2017
PADDINGTON DOES PORRIDGE
With so many childhood favourites from yesteryear being made (and remade in the case of The BFG and Pete’s Dragon) for the big screen, it is easy to look on these twenty-first century interpretations with caution. Be they originally books, films or TV shows, to fans of the beloved originals, a glitzy, modern angle could be deemed… improper. However, 2014’s Paddington – which saw Michael Bond’s marmalade-loving bear cub move from the jungles of Peru into the Brown family’s London residence – proved that new doesn’t always equal inferior.
The Mighty Boosh director Paul King and Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts producer David Heyman both return for this big-name sequel, co-written by King and Mindhorn joker Simon Farnaby, who also reprises a bit-part role in this second serving of the polite, duffel-coated delight. The BAFTA-nominated first film was funny and charming, but Paddington 2 BETTERS its predecessor to bring us a hilarious, heart-warming, clever and emotionally poignant slice of demographic-spanning family entertainment.
With the exception of Nicole Kidman’s jailed baddie, everyone from the first film returns, with Ben Miller, Jessica Swallows and Amazons Hynes, Joanna Absolutely Fabulous Lumley and Hugh Florence Foster Jenkins Grant amongst a glut of added talent to the starry ensemble. However big or small their parts, everyone feels like a necessary ingredient in this cinematic sandwich, with the possible exception of Peter “Twelfth Doctor” Capaldi, who recycles his curmudgeonly neighbour routine as if his character learnt nothing from prior events. I have no problem with Capaldi reprising the role of Mr Curry, but he is notably less integral to the plot this time around.
Hugh Grant hams it up fabulously as a deluded, past-it film-and-stage ‘ac-tor’ with a superiority complex and a screw lose, who may have something to do with the theft of a unique pop-up book of London which is stolen from Mr Gruber’s (Jim The Legend of Tarzan Broadbent) antique shop. With Paddington (voiced by Ben In the Heart of the Sea Whishaw) doing odd jobs in order to afford the rare tome, he is blamed for the robbery, and jailed when the actual burglar disappears in a cloud of smoke. Can the Brown family uncover the identity of the real thief, or will their furry resident live out his days in a cell?
Prison Paddington 2-style is an antiquated, sitcom-esque set up, but it is played out in such an outrageously edge-softened fashion that it suits the family-friendly tone perfectly. So the brutes all harbour secret pavlova-making skills and the bullies can be won over with marmalade sandwiches. As Paddington gets his inmates on-side despite accidentally dying all their uniforms pink, I found the prison scenes a laugh-out-loud triumph. Brendan Song of the Sea Gleeson is a stand-out as burly chef “Nuckle’s” (sic).
I liked Paddington (2014) well enough, but I was not prepared for how much I would LOVE Paddington 2. Having seen it in the cinema this afternoon I cannot stop thinking about it. The tone is sugary sweet, the visuals (including a picture-book tour of London) creative, inventive and wondrous, the jokes chucklesome without ever resulting to vulgarity and the poignant moments (including a tense finale in which Paddington seems to accept that he is about to drown in a river-dumped trunk!) legitimately eye-watering. It would be all too easy to dismiss a child-orientated sequel, but for my money, Paddington 2 is a bear necessity.
CR@B’s Claw Score: