I didn’t think it was possible, but “Paddington 2” is just as good as the original “Paddington.” It doesn’t repeat the same beats from the original film, but expands on the world we engaged in when we first met the friendly bear. Director Paul King is back and could easily have suffered a sophomore slump with a sequel that was filled with redundancies and pandered to a more mainstream crowd, but thankfully “Paddington 2” stays true to itself, following the adventures of our good hearted bear as he attempts to spread love where ever he goes, and find the good in people.
Paddington has settled in to his new home with the Brown’s and has found a place among the people of his neighborhood, spreading good cheer. When he seeks to find a present for Aunt Lucy’s birthday, he sets out to get a job so he can afford to buy her a very rare pop up book of London from the local antique shop. Things go awry, though, when the antique shop is broken in to and the book is stolen. Paddington is framed and sent to prison for ten years and now the Browns are anxiously trying to find the culprit. “Paddington 2” takes us in to a series of new misadventures for Paddington and the Brown family and once again relies on the very clever device of self fulfilled prophecies. When we meet the Brown family, mom Mary is seeking adventure, while dad Henry is experiencing a mid-life crisis.
Eventually everything in their lives kind of come full circle, with the inadvertent presence of Paddington, whose good intentions get him more fulfillment than troubles. Paul King keeps with the tone of the original film, allowing the follow up to be as subtle, clever, and funny as possible while never padding the film with a loud soundtrack or goofy pop references. Hugh Grant is a fine addition as nemesis Phoenix Buchanan, a has-been actor who takes an interest in Paddington in ways no one really expects. Grant plays well off of everyone in the cast, and is an intriguing villain with the just right amount of menace. The remaining cast are all as stellar as always including Sally Hawkins as the good hearted Mary, and Ben Whishaw whose performance as Paddington is filled with charm and empathy.
I also really enjoyed the addition of folks like Brendan Gleeson, Noah Taylor, and Richard Ayoade. “Paddington 2” is a top notch follow up to the original gem, acting as a fun, touching and engrossing second chapter in the life of our lovable hero looking for his place in the world, and a good marmalade sandwich.
The release from Warner comes with a DVD and Digital Copy. Among the features, there’s “Paddington: The Bear Truth,” a five minute look at Paddington and why he’s so special. “How to Make a Marmalade Sandwich” is a two minute look at—well you know. There’s a music video with Phoenix Buchanan, and “The Magical Mystery of Paddington’s Pop Up Book,” which looks at the creation of the film’s rare book. “The Browns and Paddington: The Special Bond” is a five minute look at the human cast making up the Brown family. “Knuckles: A Fistful of Marmalade” is a two minute exploration of Brendan Gleeson’s character, and “The (Once) Famous Faces of Phoenix Buchanan” which focuses on Grant, and his work in the film. Finally there’s a fine audio commentary with Director and Co-Writer Paul King.