Brilliant, warm, and so, so British, this sequel to 2015’s ‘Paddington’ is a children’s storybook come to life
It’s only a few days into the new year, but we’ll be hard-pressed to find a more delightful film in all of 2018 than “Paddington 2.”
This utterly charming children’s tale, the sequel to 2015’s “Paddington,” radiates warmth and good spirit in a way that is nothing if not old-fashioned.
Paul King returns as director for the second tale of the marmalade-scarfing cub who lives with a lovely British family (Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins shine as Mr. and Mrs. Brown) in London’s Windsor Gardens. Paddington (voiced with soft delicacy by Ben Whishaw) is now a fully integrated member of the community, bringing joy to everyone in the neighborhood with the wisdom imparted on him by his dear Aunt Lucy back in darkest Peru.
With Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday on the horizon, Pads wants to send her a gift. But the rare London pop-up book he has his heart set on is also being eyed by Phoenix Buchanan (a wonderfully self-effacing Hugh Grant), a washed-up actor turned thief who knows the book contains a treasure map of sorts.
A wild adventure lands our hero in prison (Brendan Gleeson is a hoot as a hardened cook whom Paddington befriends), but the penitentiary walls are no match for Paddington’s charms. The script by King and co-writer Simon Farnaby is rich enough that it hums even when Paddington is not on screen, and the whole enterprise is so whimsical and, well, British, that it feels like being whisked away to a different place.
“Paddington 2” is fun, lovable moviemaking that transcend age. If you have kids, take them. If you have nieces and nephews, take them. If you don’t have kids but just want to feel like one yourself, go see it. Paddington is a bear for all seasons.
Two paws up.
Rated PG for some action and mild rude humor
Running time: 103 minutes