FOUR STARS When a thief steals a book, Paddington ends up in prison. But he won't let the story end there...
Starring Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant
PADDINGTON 2 is a delight. With highlights of silliness, a casing of light hearted fun wrapped around a warm morality tale, director Paul King distinguishes himself by creating a cruelty-free film that’s devoid of violence, meanness, mawkishness or selfishness. Aunt Lucy’s prevailing guidelines by which Paddington lives his life have infected the filmmaker and what an absolute pleasure that is. Add a first rate cast (Ben Whishaw was born to play the bear), exceptional effects (the animation is astonishingly good) and Hugh Grant’s self-deprecating turn as a hammy old actor forced to do dog commercials - what’s not to like?
The story sees Paddington do time in jail when framed for the robbery of a valuable story-book, one he planned buying as a present for his beloved Aunt Lucy. The scene in which he disappears into the pop-up book, where computer graphics and hand-drawn art merge is one of the film’s finest. While Paddington’s family try to catch a wily thief from the outside, the bear, with help from formerly hardened, now marmalade-softened, criminals works to catch him from the inside. What follows is the stuff of Panto wrapped around a deliciously sweet and tangy story.
Ostensibly a children’s film, kids were wilfully outnumbered by a factor of 6:1 at the public screening I attended (and I suspect those that were there had been coerced as cover for their grown ups). The adult appeal of PADDINGTON 2 lies in its simplicity; here is a gentle, kind and funny place to spend a couple of hours, one that reminds us of the essential goodness of people (albeit through the eyes of a bear). The experience for kids is no less rewarding, or enchanting. What’s not to like?