In my original review of “Paddington” on my old website, I said: “I never grew up on Paddington, a stuffed bear with a coat and hat. My mother and sister did. The only bears I grew up with are Little Bear and Winnie the Pooh. However, I was absolutely delighted with the film debut from England, and I think families everywhere are gonna love it.”
Now, I’m saying: families will love “Paddington 2,” too. As a British import, this has, once again, has a lot of magic and intelligence.
As the sequel begins, the bear Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) decides to perform odd jobs in order to buy his Aunt Lucy (voiced by Imelda Staunton) a treasured pop-up book of London, because of how she missed her chance to go in order to raise him. Then Phoenix Buchanan, a former actor and master of disguise (Hugh Grant), steals the book, and Paddington is wrongfully convicted.
Phoenix needs the book to help him find a lost treasure that will regain his fortune. Paddington’s family-the Browns (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Madeleine Harris, and Samuel Joslin) and Mrs. Bird (Julie Walters)-must help him prove his innocence. And Paddington’s wonderful taste in marmalade earns him friends with the other convicts, including a tough chef named Knuckles (Brendan Gleeson).
“Paddington 2” is just as delightful as the first film. Its the kind of live-action animal sequel that’s smart, unlike “Scooby Doo 2” or the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” sequels. In fact, this is one of the rarest CGI animal family films to be charming. There’s no humiliation of any kind, and that’s good. Ben Whishaw is fantastic once again as the voice of Paddington, and I enjoyed the Hugh Grant villain more than the Nicole Kidman villain, and the Brendan Gleeson chef.
The movie also features imaginative and some very silly ideas like suitcases with extending ladders or red socks turning all the prison uniforms pink. In fact, the jokes are witty, the visual style is versatile, and the heart is sweet. Other than a few unnecessary things (and I have seen a better jail break in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” a few years ago), this will charm families.
After “Coco,” “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Ferdinand,” “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” and “The Greatest Showman,” “Paddington 2” is your kids’ next best choice.