Don’t mistake a movie about an adopted Peruvian bear in London for a purely kiddie affair. Director Paul King returns a second time to lead a cast of Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins and Brendan Gleeson in a role akin to Harry Potter’s Mad Eye Moody who all learn to live and love the bear with a penchant for marmalade sandwiches.
The next installment sees Paddington (Ben Whishaw) well adjusted to his new life at Windsor Gardens with the Browns. He remains with the longing to bring the closest experience of his dream home to his beloved Aunt Lucy and so embarks on a series of amusing odd jobs to raise the money for a pop-up book. His prized possession steals the eye of washed up thespian Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant in a delightfully insufferable role) who is chasing his former glory days. His many disguises are as inventive as they are outlandish. Now in prison and separated from the family he loves, he faces being forgotten by his new family and the prospect of never reuniting with his aunt. Like the first movie, it explores the lost identity but with more depth, amidst the backdrop of navigating midlife crises and struggling to reinvent yourself in a disposable world that has no use for you anymore.
Much of the humour derives from how essentially British this movie is. When he characters are under duress, they make cups of tea or if the villains forget their manners they are severely reprimanded for it. Still, there are enough action scenes with freight trains or prison chases to satisfy the lightsabre happy crowd. Visually, the movie is as vivid as a picture book without becoming too heavy on the pastels and patronising to its audience. There’s mystery, adventure, and the dark tones of grief and loss, but above all it’s a movie that promises if you pay your dues, the world will be so much better off for it.
Putting the product placement for marmalade sandwiches aside, Paddington is the family movie that won’t divide the family table this Christmas.