Review: Paddington 2 (2017)

I succumb easily to the charms of Paddington 2 and Hugh Grant having the time of his life

“Exit bear, pursued by an actor”

In a year when sequels have outperformed expectations (at least mine anyway), I should have heeded the signs that Paddington 2 heralded back last winter that sequels were ‘in’. Paul King’s follow-up to his 2014 warm-hearted original, reintroducing us to our ursine Peruvian hero, occupies a similar space of resolutely British family films that are a cut above. 

Written by King and Simon Farnaby, the film is unafraid to take its audience seriously and for every adorably sweet sequence, there’s genuine peril and even darkness in there too. Hugh Grant is the main antagonist, an actor called Phoenix Buchanan who has been reduced to making dog-food adverts and his ne’er-d-well ways see Paddington framed for a crime he did not commit.

Grant is hilarious as the hammed-up thespian but truth is he is just the jewel on the crown of a delightful piece of film-making. Erik Wilson’s cinematography is beautifully done, integrating the animation so seamlessly that it is easy to forget Paddington isn’t (shhh) real. And voiced by Ben Whishaw, he’s as appealing a bashful hero as you could ever want.

And they’re supported by a veritable who’s-who of UK talent chipping in their tuppence. Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon’s voices as the adoptive aunt and uncle, Sally Hawkins and Hugh Bonneville as Paddington’s new pseudo-family, Julie Walters edging closer and closer to typecasting as a slightly batty housekeeper. Plus there’s the likes of Eileen Atkins, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Maggie Steed and many more in vivid cameos. Deliciously good fun. 

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