Paddington 2 (2017) Review

Paddington 2


When I first saw the trailer for Paddington (2014), the first movie, I didn’t think well of it. It looked like a very childish movie, obviously marketed to children, employing some cheap CGI to make a quick buck. However, when I saw the movie on a whim, it turned out to be much better than I anticipated. Paddington was a heartwarming tale of a simple, gentlemanly bear stuck in a very English place with very English people. The story was uplifting and the humour was restrained, and Paddington himself was just such a decent character that you couldn’t help root for him.

It kind of reminded me of the movie Lady in the Van (2015) with Maggie Smith, in which common English people are forced to deal with a mad woman living on their grounds. In that movie too, the magic of “English decency” made everyone extremely flummoxed by their strange cohabitant, but since everyones politeness forbade them to do anything rash about it, the mad lady was accepted in the end. Paddington had a similar premise and vibe. Introduce a strange character into an English family and watch everyone be confused till Paddington is accepted and embraced.

In Paddington 2, our bear wants to buy a present for his ageing aunt who lives in the jungle. He finds a nice pop-up book that he wants to buy her, but he has no money. That is by the way a very creative scene with impressive animation; all animation is really well done here. That leads to a whole series of “adventures” in which Paddington tries out various jobs. At one occasion he mentions his plan to a washed-up actor (Hugh Grant in a hilariously scene-chewing role). Grant then steals the pop-up book and good-natured Paddington gets framed for it. All this happens within the first 25 minutes, so you can imagine that the pace of the film is fast. Never a dull moment for Paddington.

Paddington 2 is above all inventive. The pace stays high, which means that there is a lot of sheer storytelling material here. The film never shies away from giving little comedic flashbacks or little montages to liven things up, even though that must have inflated the costs of production and the sheer time and effort in making the film. Hugh Grant is also a highlight, a great villain and rather twisted in the head. Grant plays him as a flamboyant, theatrical and tragic figure with a winning grin, showing, ironically, that his career is far from over.

There is a palpable sense that a very dedicated crew stood behind this film that spared no effort to give everyone an enjoyable evening. You kind of have to give in to it and allow yourself to enjoy something that on the surface looks a bit childish. But if you can do this, then the film keeps giving.

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