Brandon Richardson | 12/12/2017
In a market of children's films plagued with copy-pasted toilet humour, Paddington 2 reminds us all that entertaining and enchanting stories can be interwoven with smart and original humour that appeals to audiences of all ages.
Paddington 2 returns us to the anthropomorphised bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw), who is now well settled in London, living happily with the Brown family. Paddington has become a much loved member of the community due to his insatiable appetite for manners, allowing him to find the good in everyone he meets. However, he has a problem: his Aunt Lucy’s (voiced by Imelda Staunton) 100th birthday is approaching and he is searching for the perfect present. He finds a vintage pop-up book of London in his dear friend Mr. Gruber’s (Jim Broadbent) antique store and immediately falls in love with it. Being out of his price range, Paddington undertakes various jobs around the city in order to purchase the gift, with often hilarious results. But when the book is stolen and Paddington is suspected, he must work with the Browns to clear his name, catch the thief and find Aunt Lucy’s present.
As one who was mostly unfamiliar with the concept of Paddington prior to seeing this film (except for seeing mountains of teddy bear versions piled up at the shops), it was an initially confusing premise to see a talking, small bear integrating seamlessly into a busy London neighbourhood. And yet, it takes only a few minutes for the confusion to melt away as you become lost in Paddington’s innocence and unforgiving kindness. Coupled with an incredibly cute overcoat and hat, it is this stark innocence that makes Paddington not only highly endearing but also allows for ample creativity in situational humour. Rather than resorting to picking the low-hanging and unsatisfying fruit like some recent kids comedies (we’re looking at you Emoji Movie), Paddington 2 distinguishes itself by deriving comedy through the innocent trouble Paddington finds himself in and, more importantly, the smart juxtaposition of his steadfast manners against those who have forgotten them.
Perhaps the most striking testament to the profound impact that Paddington has had on British culture is the swathe of top actors lining up to partake in these films. The most notable additions for this iteration are Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson. Save for a surprise musical number from Grant, Gleeson is particularly standout in the crucial role of hardened criminal Knuckles McGinty. Not only does he make a crude and cruel human incredible likeable, his character is the clearest example of the message that Paddington carries with him. Simply by showing this intimidating human some kindness, Paddington is able to bring out the good that lies underneath. Herein lies the importance of this, and the character at large, bringing an incredibly powerful message to children in ways that they find entertaining and easy to understand.
Overall, Paddington 2 is a film that provides entertainment for the whole family. Children (and adults) will appreciate the adorable main character thrust into a crime-solving mystery, with enough twists and turns to satisfy their curiosity. Parents will enjoy the comedic stylings of Hugh Grant and others, as well as the beautiful scenery of London. We hope that StudioCanal can keep up the high standard of work they have produced here and look forward to seeing Paddington return to the big screen.