Directed by: Paul King
Run time: 1 hour 43 delightful minutes
If we’re kind and polite the world will be right…
Based on the famous book series by Michael Bond, the 2014 film Paddington was an adorable story about a young bear from Peru traveling to London to find a new home. After fighting off the villainous Millicent (Nicole Kidman) who wanted to stuff him and put him in a museum, Paddington eventually found happiness with the Brown family. Fast forward a few years and Paddington 2 finds our furry hero still happily living with the Browns in the picturesque neighborhood of Windsor Gardens. Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is eager to find the perfect birthday present for his dear Aunt Lucy who is turning 100. At Mr. Gruber’s antique shop, he comes across a beautiful pop-up book that depicts historic landmarks of London. Since she’s always wanted to visit, Paddington sets his heart on buying her the book and looks to find a job. When a stint at the local barber shop goes horribly awry, Paddington becomes a window washer and works hard to earn enough money for the book. Unfortunately, the book is stolen from the shop by washed up actor Phoenix Buchanan (a hilarious Hugh Grant) and when Paddington attempts to stop the robbery he is framed for the theft and sent to prison.
While Mr. and Mrs. Brown (Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins) work tirelessly to find the real culprit, Paddington tries to adjust to life behind bars. Of course Paddington is no ordinary bear and his sunny disposition and kind attitude slowly win over the prison inmates. He even manages to befriend the terrifying prison cook Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson) by teaching him how to make marmalade. Soon the entire prison is a happier place all because of one little bear. At the same time, Phoenix Buchanan has revealed the true value of the book—it’s actually treasure map which will lead him to a hidden cache of jewels.
When Mrs. Brown eventually suspects Phoenix of stealing the book, the whole family comes up with a plan to reveal his guilt. This leads them to miss visiting hours at the prison causing Paddington’s faith in the Browns to falter. Will Paddington ever be reunited with his beloved family? Will the dastardly Phoenix find the treasure and get away with his crime? I’m certainly not going to tell you!
Why oh why can’t Hollywood create more joyful and heartwarming films like this gem? My daughter and I absolutely loved this story and I’m not sure where to begin with my praise. Let’s start with the acting. Hugh Grant has played the part of a washed up celebrity before (in the under-rated and witty Music and Lyrics) and he is a riot as the ridiculous pompous villain Phoenix. All of the talent is first-rate, especially the perfection of Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington. The cinematography is fantastic and I’ve never seen London looking so lovely. The whole film is beautifully shot—from the animated pop-up book scenes to the gradual transformation of the prison. I’m often discouraged by the ridiculous amount of CGI in movies, but I was amazed at how real Paddington seemed as a character. He shows so much emotion in his face and especially his eyes that I fell completely in love with this adorable little bear. He even made me cry!
Most importantly, the message of the story is just beautiful. Paddington often repeats his Aunt Lucy’s motto that if we’re kind and polite the world will be right. Paddington always sees the best in people and always chooses kindness. As a result, he makes a positive impact on all those he meets and everyone is better for having known this amazing bear.
I highly recommend this beautiful family film for anyone who wants to have big belly laughs and maybe shed a few tears along the way. Be sure to stay through the end credits—if you can handle a few more giggles you’ll get an extra special musical treat!