Like many sequels to runaway box office hits, Paddington 2 ups the ante.
Kicking off with a dramatic rescue sequence and concluding with a chase on top of a moving train, the scale is bigger, the stakes are higher and the action set-pieces more elaborate. But don’t worry. Given how gentle, whimsical and charming the first film was, even ratcheting up the spectacle a notch or two hardly puts it on a par with Marvel.
Success, in other words, hasn’t ruined this big screen incarnation of the late Michael Bond’s wonderful creation. If anything, returning director Paul King doubles down on the things that made the first one such a success: the sense of warmth and inclusivity, the wild flights of imagination – not to mention all the goofy jokes that will likely have under-12s in stitches.
It also has Hugh Grant as the villain. A faded stage actor long since reduced to making a living advertising dog food, Grant’s embittered Phoenix Buchanan is a hoot: a riot of pantomime awfulness. Desperately in need of funds to stage what he hopes will be his theatrical resurrection, he frames Paddington in order to get his hands on a vintage book that he believes holds clues to a stash of hidden jewellery. Paddington – who wants the book as a 100th birthday present for his beloved Aunt Lucy back in Peru – is convicted of stealing it and despite the flimsiest of evidence, he’s sent down for ten years.
What’s nice about this film is that it’s so lacking in cynicism that even though the plot is about as substantial as one of Paddington marmalade sandwiches, it’s hard not to be won over by the duffel coat-sporting furball.
On general release