Admittedly a tonal shift from the last film in my queue as Paddington would doubtless point out that it would be better to put marmalade on toast rather than throw it at the screen — and his inherent politeness might make the denizens of the castle stop their machinations for a moment (though that doesn’t preclude another musical number and you know Dr. Furter would slip in some innuendo).
Nevertheless, such is the power of a young, good-hearted bear, still voiced wonderfully by Ben Whishaw. The rest of the Brown family is here as well… to say nothing of the rest of the neighborhood and a brand new villain. Now, Nicole Kidman was a perfectly respectable villain in the first film. She had a proper evil motivation to uphold the family honor and a complete lack of scruples when it came to killing (and stuffing) animals making her, in the words of my daughter, “simply awful.”
Paddington 2‘s villain somehow manages to up the ante, perhaps because Hugh Grant has found his calling playing charming, posh, but prideful villains that are all about absconding with the riches. (Indeed, I saw this right about the same time Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves came out in cinemas and let’s agree that Grant basically has a lock on this class of bad guy as long as he wants the paycheques).
It isn’t simply the characters or performances that are delightful. Once again, director Paul King employs more than a little cinematic panache that communicates the whimsy and magical nature of Paddington’s London. I mean, I suppose it’s technically not a full-on fantasy like Lord of the Rings, but any film with a talking bear and prisoners breaking out into dance numbers is, sadly, a world rather removed from our own.
This film easily gets four stars out of five. Some viewers may rate it higher, because it’s arguably better than the first one and the first one probably ought to get fours stars as well. And a marmalade sandwich, of course. Can’t forget that (though Paddington has you covered in that case). Do see them both if given the chance.