Paddington 2 movie director: Paul King
Paddington 2 movie cast: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Grant, Madeline Harris, Samuel Joslin, Julie Walters
Paddington 2 movie raing: 3.5 stars
In which the bear from “deepest, darkest Peru” encounters the best of England. Be it the monuments, the actors, the Bard and —the icing on the cake — a dancing Hugh Grant.
It’s been some years since Paddington arrived at the Browns’ home, and is now an accepted and loved member of not just the family but the neighbourhood. The crisis in his life this time is earning enough money to buy his beloved Aunt Lucy, who lives in a home for retired bears back in Lima, a gift for her 100th birthday.
Unlike the first Paddington film (2014), based on the classic children’s character by English writer Michael Bond, director King has a tougher task at hand — and not just because sequels to good movies come with their burden. Paddington’s arrival alone in the big city, with just a suitcase, hat, duffel coat and tag around his neck, not to mention bottles of marmalade, was so plaintive that him finding his paws around the Brown home made for a natural heartwarming story. King was helped by a marvellous set of actors, and Paddington exuded warmth, kindness, joy and laughs.
How do you replicate the same when that first wonder is gone? King struggles initially, especially in a rather lame attempt at establishing a multi-cultural neighbourhood, where Sanjeev Bhaskar, for example, has barely two lines of dialogue. Later, Meera Syal shows up briefly. And the film rambles along, rather aimlessly, through the many attempts of Paddington to land jobs. But it is when he finds himself in jail that King again proves adept at “finding the good in everyone”, as Aunt Lucy advised.
Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins, the woman with perhaps the crinkliest, kindest eyes in show business, are again excellent as the fumbling, loving, well-meaning Browns. And Whishaw’s Paddington is a creature of just the right amount of vulnerability and grit. But it is Grant who is a find here, mocking himself, showing his age, and rocking a neat number in a pink outfit.