Monday, 13 November 2017

Film: 'Paddington 2'

I'd thought the first 'Paddington Bear' film (2014) just okay, though nothing to get really excited about. No such indifference with this sequel - I absolutely loved it! The visuals and the storyline inventiveness are astonishing, all the way through with minimal lapses. And I haven't laughed so much at a film comedy in a long, long time. It wasn't just me, the entire audience seemed to be in uproarious mood. A sheer pick-you-up tonic to counter the blues!

We once again find Paddington (created by the recently-deceased Michael Bond - and voiced magnificently spot-on by Ben Whishaw) still living in an affluent London suburb with the same family (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters) and with the neighbours familiar from last time, plus a number of new additions. In minor or cameo roles there is a veritable roll-call of British actors of film, theatre and TV over several generations - plus Brendan Gleeson as the scary, hard-man prison chef who makes all the other inmates cower with a mere glance. 
Sometimes adding so many recognisable faces to a film betrays a sense of desperation in wanting to hold the audience's attention when the material is too weak or not funny enough to do the job. Not so here. It's a non-stop delight from beginning to end.
The plum acting bonus present in this is Hugh Grant (and what a hoot he is!) playing the dastardly villain - a pantomime villain, true, but perfectly in keeping with the spirit of the film.

The plot is simple enough, Paddington finding that an antiques shop has a pop-up book about London which he's set his heart on to buy  and send to his Auntie back in Peru, but he can't afford it yet. While it's being kept for him, Hugh Grant, playing a former big-name actor now reduced to appearing in dog-food commercials, hears about the pop-up book, knowing that it uniquely contains the clues to the location of a literal treasure chest, so he has to get hold of it himself. It's then a matter of Hugh Grant attaining ownership of the book by devious means and Paddington trying to get it back to send his Auntie.

Director Paul King, who also directed the first film of three years ago, directs this with considerable panache, not slacking his grip for one moment and coming up with surprise on surprise.

Please don't let the presence of Hugh Grant put you off. I know some actively dislike him (I've always found him quite endearing) but in this, as in his marvellous portrayal in 'Florence Foster Jenkins', he goes well outside the former same foppish, bumbling character he always seemed to play in films up until a few years ago - and which I also liked, by the way. But how many times has he played a 'nasty'? Rarely, if ever. But here he seizes the chance with relish and with both hands, he being possibly the most memorable aspect, among many others, of the entire film!

Btw: I must implore anyone who sees this not to exit the cinema before the final credits. You don't have to wait long for a killer of a surprise during those end credits which I can practically guarantee will send you home with a mile-wide grin on your face. 

I liked this so much that it had actually crossed my mind to award it an '8', but an inner voice started to nag at me, -"That would be just silly!" It may not be so silly when I say that this film could well end up in my Top 10 of 2017. So far it's probably the surprise of the year!...............7.5



  1. Is this serious? It isn't lst April. I thought it was a children's film and yet you don't mention that so perhaps I am totally mistaken.

    1. No, I'm not kidding, Rachel, though I can see why some might thing that I've finally tipped over into senility, and maybe should now be carted off to the 'funny farm'.
      I went to a 'Silver Screen' showing, with most of the audience around my age or even older, and I can tell you that from my gauging of the audience reaction it was overwhelmingly positive.
      It never occurred to me about it being a kiddie's film, though there is that appeal as well - I don't recall any of the jokes being anything near 'bluish'.
      If I've managed to convince you to at least think about seeing it, then I'm happy 'cos if you follow it up I can't see you having any regrets.

    2. I have another film that I must see, The Killing of the Sacred Deer which I have been waiting for since June. I still can't bring myself to walk into see a Paddington Bear film in spite of everything you have said.

    3. My probable final chance to see 'Sacred Deer' was last Monday, Rachel, and I had put it in my diary. However, come the day I was, and still am, labouring under a drippy cold and hacking cough, so rather than travelling to Brighton. carrying them, I played safe and stayed here in Worthing, seeing 'Paddington' (of which much already said). If the chance comes to see 'Deer' again (unlikely) I'll try hard to see it as it sounds every bit as quirky (though more violent) than the same director's quite remarkable 'The Lobster' of last year. I look forward to reading what you think about it.

  2. At first, I wasn't interested in this review - a film that I would definitely not see. However, your enthusiasm made me want to know more.

    Netflix Streaming had "Paddington 1" in its inventory so I watched it last night. Took me by complete surprise: Loved this charming, enchanting, adorable,marmalade-loving little bear.
    A big shout-out to Ben W. for pulling this off. I think the British flavor added greatly to my enjoyment. Only one complaint: I think I have a sugar high from so much marmalade.

    Hoping that this will be shown in our theaters as I am curious as to what happens when the credits roll. If not there is always the DVD or hopefully Netflix.

    1. That really is good news from you, Paul. So it wasn't just me! Actually I wasn't at all sure how the humour would travel outside of these isles or, indeed, to what extent Paddington Bear is known at all internationally.
      After my so-so reaction to the first film I probably wouldn't have bothered with this but the wildly enthusiastic reviews pulled me in, and I'm so glad they did.
      Thanks for pointing out my glaring omission of Ben Whishaw, which is now corrected by insertion. It was in my original draft but it was one of those darned things where the whole thing vanishes inexplicably before posting, so I had to type it all out again from memory, that being one of the defects.
      Yes, it's a very British production and I dare say many of the faces won't be recognised outside this country. But that doesn't mean it's not as funny.
      It really will be a crying shame if this doesn't make it into cinemas globally. However, with people like you who've got more than the odd chuckle from it, perhaps distributing companies will hear a collective sound of laughing approval and give it a chance on the big screen.
      Pity you didn't get to see what's in the final credits. It's still too early to give any clues and I don't want to spoil it for those who may have had their curiosity further tantalised. Surprise is the thing!
      Thanks very much for your thumbs-up!

  3. I need to read the books on Mr. P Bear, for I have never done so.

    1. Neither have I, Sir, and that made me indifferent to the first of the Paddington films last year. But with this film, it's not so much one of being attracted to the bear himself, it's the very amusing actions around him that hit it off with me.

  4. Wonderful review. After seeing the first one, I'll be sure to see this too. Warm greetings!

    1. Thanks, B. As you liked the originnal one so much (which I didn't, though without DISliking it) you're guaranteed to find this one a real treat. Don't miss it whatever you do!