“Mysterious things have been happening all over town“
Paddington was one of the biggest delights to come out not just cinema, but out of 2014 generally, full stop. A family film that felt like it was literally made for all of the family – charming, whimsical and full of heart. Cynicism is not welcome in the world of Paddington, nor are needlessly smutty wink-wink jokes for the adults in the audience. It was the kind of film that warranted a sequel but also then the kind of film that would lead to concern that a follow-up just wouldn’t be as good.
Suffice to say, upon watching it today, those fears are duly unwarranted. In fact I’d go as far as to say this film is even better that its predecessor. Within the film’s opening minutes I found myself happy-crying, the first of at least five separate occasions. I laughed out loud, many of them belly laughs, more times than I could count. The big stupid grin of my face? That didn’t fade once.
Like most sequels, this is a film that is bigger than it’s predecessor – bigger in scale, story and cast. And it all works fantastically. Even just a momentary browse on IMDB would make it apparent just how high-calibre the ensemble cast is, several of whom have just a half-a-dozen lines yet make an unforgettable impression. The Brown family – made up of Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville and Julie Waters – are as lovely as you remember them. Ben Whishaw is truly endearing yet again as the eponymous bear. Hugh Grant is gloriously silly, giving it his all as an actor with many faces. Brendan Gleeson, a man whom I would watch in anything and everything, is simply irresistible as prison chef Knuckles. Both new additions are scene-stealing yet fit in perfectly.
The story, kickstarted by Paddington’s desperate search to get his Aunt Lucy the perfect present for her 100th birthday, takes the many unexpected twists you’ll have come to expect – yet it never veers off course, always retaining its warm and beating heart at the centre. Watching it feels like a much-needed escape from the world, an antidote to the weary onslaught of negativity we negotiate on a daily basis and an endearing reminder of how nice things & people can be. Plus London is shown at her absolute ruddy finest.