Published On: Fri, Jan 12th, 2018

Paddington 2 better than bearable family fun

Paddington 2

Starring Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins. Co-written and directed by Paul King. Opens Friday at GTA theatres. 103 minutes. G

What a pleasant surprise — a sequel that bears up to and perhaps even exceeds the original.

The latest adventures of the punctiliously polite, marmalade-loving Paddington Bear is family-friendly fun for all ages, thanks to a marvellous script, a sterling cast and the adept, sure-handed direction of Paul King.

Article Continued Below

The story dovetails seamlessly with the first Paddington in 2014, based on the beloved children’s books of Michael Bond about an orphaned Peruvian bear who finds a home in London, where he manages to spread loads of joy to those around him along with a little unintended mayhem.

Paddington, voiced by Ben Whishaw, does a bit of time behind bars with  Brendan Gleeson's Knuckles in Paddington 2.
Paddington, voiced by Ben Whishaw, does a bit of time behind bars with Brendan Gleeson’s Knuckles in Paddington 2.  (SYSTEM / via Warner Brothers)  

Uncle Pastuzo is gone so Paddington is desperate to give dear aunt Lucy back home a particularly special gift for her 100th birthday, and what better than a pop-up book of London landmarks he finds in the old curiosity shop of Mr. Gruber (Jim Broadbent)?

But the book, which Paddington is saving up to buy in his new job as a window washer — a task he really puts his back into — has also drawn the interest of a has-been actor Phoenix Buchanan, who sees in it a treasure map to a fortune that can bankroll his long-awaited comeback.

In pursuit of the thief, Paddington is collared and sentenced to prison by a gruff and grudge-bearing judge (Tom Conti), a previous victim of Paddington’s well but misguided intentions.

You wouldn’t imagine a bear in the big house would be fertile ground for comedy but in this instance, you would be mistaken. And with Paddington doing hard time, it’s up to the Brown family to track down the real thief.

The story is economically plotted with nary a wasted moment, giving all of the principals a chance to shine, including dad Henry (Hugh Bonneville), undergoing a mid-life crisis, and mom Mary (Sally Hawkins), whose aspiration to being a long-distance swimmer comes handily into play.

King once again draws on the deep pool of acting talent on the other side of the Atlantic, with wonderfully hammy performances by Irishman Brendan Gleeson as much-feared prison cook Knuckles and Hugh Grant an absolute riot as Buchanan, an egomaniacal actor reduced to donning a dog costume for pet-food commercials.

It’s also a visually lovely film to watch thanks to the fine work of cinematographer Erik Wilson and there’s a sublime pop-up animation scene that demonstrates King’s copious attention to detail.

At the heart of the tale is the expertly CGI-rendered Paddington (voiced to perfection by Ben Wishaw), who evokes an unexpectedly powerful range of emotions from joy to pathos.

Sure, the plot veers off in some outlandish directions. But you’re certain to come away from Paddington 2 with a warm, contented spirit and very possibly a real hankering for a marmalade sandwich.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

TORONTO STAR

Leave a comment

Paddington 2 better than bearable family fun