Look, man. I’m not going to go so far as to say that Paddington 2 is the cure for all negativity in the world. But it’s pretty close.
It’s no small secret that everyone who’s seen Paddington 2 has been absolutely in love with it, and for good reason. I know we’re not even through January yet, but I’m fairly confident that this will be the most pleasant theater experience you could have in 2018. Every second of this film is purely delightful, causing you to leave the theater with a warm glow on your face and a satisfied joy that is incredibly hard to achieve. Paddington, he’s the little bear who lives in London in case you were unaware, wants to buy a birthday present for his aunt, as “it’s not every day that a bear turns a hundred.” To do this, he goes around the city earning money doing odd jobs until something terrible happens causing him to go to jail for a crime he did not commit. This throws our story into action, while Paddington makes friends with the inmates and brings sunshine to prison, his human family goes on their own adventure to try to clear his name.
Paddington and its sequel are films by HeyDay productions, the same people who brought us Harry Potter, and like the wizarding world movies, Paddington is full of a stellar cast of veteran British actors. From Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Brendan Gleeson, and, of course, Hugh Grant, every actor in the film positively shines. Ben Winshaw plays Paddington and brings an untaintable sincerity to the bear that brings him to life in the best way possible. Paddington is naive but is never corrupted. He believes in being kind to everyone and brings nothing but happiness to people around him, kind of like a short, fuzzy Amelie. The whole human cast is wonderful, but the real stars are newcomers Brendan Gleeson and Hugh Grant. Gleeson plays Paddington’s friend in prison who begins incredibly hard-edged but has his heart melted by the optimism of the little bear. I’m a huge Gleeson fan, so it was spectacular to see him mesh perfectly with the world of Paddington. Grant plays the villain of the film, a vaudevillian actor obsessed with chasing an ancient fortune. He clearly had a blast making the movie which is evident through his performance. He’s silly in a family movie kind of way, but still brings a certain element of class allowing his character to be enjoyed by all.
I don’t want this review to come across as me showering this film with praise simply because it’s cute. Because, even though it is cute, it’s still a very, very well made movie. Paul King wrote and directed this film as well as the first and does a tremendous job. He is perfectly honed in on the tone and helps to craft a movie that transports you to an idyllic version of reality that feels believable, never childish. The script is wonderfully executed, creating a perfect blend of physical comedy and classic British wit to make a film that is easily loved by anyone who watches it, regardless of their age. The movie is masterfully paced, with no sequence staying its welcome too long, as well as feeling whole without needing to be two hours long. The set design in the film is positively fantastic, crafting a seamless world that makes London look like a real-life storybook. Of course, this is aided by some shockingly great cinematography for a family film. And, of course, the special effects are grand as well. Paddington looks and feels real. It’s a real testament to whoever designed him that he is able to look cuddly while still somewhat realistic. There are some extended CGI sequences in this film, most notably one that takes place within a pop-up book that left me speechless with how beautiful they were. All in all, if I were a parent I would love to show my child this movie. Because, not only does it have a grand message, it is also a master class in strong filmmaking as well as will help to develop a great sense of humor. But, it is my belief that anyone should see Paddington 2, whether or not they have a family. I saw the movie by myself and am sure that I had every bit as good of a time as anyone else.
All images are from Paddington 2, a film by StudioCanal