Release date: 10th November 2017/Watch the trailer here
If one of the biggest surprises of 2014 was what an absolute delight Paddington turned out to be, then it seems appropriate that one of the biggest surprises of 2017 is that Paddington 2 is just as good – if not slightly better – than the original. Featuring the kindhearted bear who travelled to London from deepest, darkest Peru in Michael Bond’s much-loved children’s books, Paddington 2 picks up where the first film left off; with Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) happily living with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens, and as a popular member of the local community.
While searching for the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy’s (Imelda Staunton) 100th birthday, Paddington stumbles upon a pop-up book of London in Mr Gruber’s (Jim Broadbent) antique shop. He takes on a number of odd jobs – from a disastrous spell at a barbershop to a somewhat more successful stint cleaning windows – in order to save up enough money for the book, but when it is stolen by faded actor Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant), looking to restore his fortune and resurrect his career, it’s Paddington who finds himself in prison for the crime.
Of course, prison in the Paddington universe isn’t all that bad – much like the London the characters inhabit, the filmmakers have crafted a whimsical take on a prison, in which the inmates wear pink-striped uniforms following a washing machine incident involving a stray red sock, and eat marmalade sandwiches with their afternoon tea after the recipe is passed on from Paddington to the fearsome prison chef, Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson). Meanwhile, the Brown family – led by mum Mary (Sally Hawkins), dad Henry (Hugh Bonneville) and housekeeper Mrs Bird (Julie Walters) – attempt to apprehend the thief and prove Paddington’s innocence.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better way to pass a couple of hours: Paddington 2 is one of the rarest of children’s films; the kind that actually has something to offer for the whole family. There’s more than enough silly humour here to keep the younger audience members happy, but there’s plenty to entertain the adults, too – namely, Hugh Grant as an excellent villain, making a fool out of himself and appearing to enjoy every minute (stay for the credits if you want to see him do a song and dance number in a sparkly jumpsuit).
From a filmmaking perspective, there’s much to be admired, too. The attention to detail in the beautiful sets and costumes is impeccable, creating a fanciful, rainbow-coloured world for its characters (all pleasantly good-natured, aside from the dastardly villains) to live in. The result is a joyful, feel-good film that couldn’t be more apt for this time of year (and the warmth and coziness it exudes makes it feel like a festive film, despite not being set at Christmas). Even the most stone-hearted of cinema goers would struggle not to crack a smile at a film as charming as Paddington 2.