‘Paddington 2’ is a sweet surprise

Paddington 2 (2018)

Directed by Paul King

Years after escaping the clutches of an evil taxidermist and finding a home with the Brown family (Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Samuel Joslin, and Madeleine Harris), Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) has found a groove—the tight-knit community relies on his contagious spirit of kindness and helpfulness to get on with their day-to-day (except the xenophobic community watchman, played by Peter Capaldi of “Doctor Who” fame). As his Aunt Lucy’s (voiced by Imelda Staunton) 100th birthday approaches, Paddington thinks he’s found the perfect gift, an antique pop-up book. But when the book is stolen and Paddington is framed, he’ll have to rely on the Browns (and some friends he meets on the inside) to help clear his name and recover the perfect present.

“Paddington 2” confirms my initial thought after seeing “Paddington”—that if Wes Anderson adapted children’s books, his movies might look something like this. In the trailer for “Paddington 2,” the clumsy bear accidentally tosses a red sock in with a full load of old-timey black and white striped prison outfits, making them all a soft shade of pink. On top of the already bold and colorful production design, this wardrobe change (which lasts throughout the end of the movie) is such a Wes Anderson thing to do. Such vivid detail has made the “Paddington” movies stick out. Oscar-winning composer Dario Marianelli’s (“Atonement”) magical score evokes a sense of childlike wonder—I dare you to hear it and stay sad. After author Michael Bond passed away last year (he wrote all 27 “Paddington” books spanning six decades, including the last, which will release this year), the cast and crew of “Paddington 2” said they were even more determined to do justice to Bond’s storybooks. I think it’s safe to say they have.

After “Paddington 2” received three BAFTA nominations, there was an increased level of hype for what was otherwise a moderately anticipated movie, at least stateside. Looking back, though, critics should recall that “Paddington” was also nominated for multiple BAFTA awards. Maybe “Paddington 2” isn’t as good as “Paddington,” or maybe it’s a little better, but either way, precedent had been set. Perhaps the most shocking nomination went to franchise newcomer Hugh Grant, playing a washed-up actor with hopes of making it big again. I’ll be honest…I don’t see why. Better, in my opinion (though no more deserving of any award) is Brendan Gleeson, playing the prison cook who befriends Paddington. Sally Hawkins follows up a strong year with another good performance. Her innocent smile and quirky humor fit right in with this children’s franchise. “Paddington 2” is just as enjoyable for parents as it is for children. If you enjoyed the first film, this sequel will delight you.

7.5/10

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