Three years since he first hit our screens in a truly heart-warming story, Paddington Bear is back, and he does not disappoint. In an uplifting tale, the endeavours of Paddington (Ben Wishaw) to spread kindness cannot fail to and restore the audience’s faith in mankind – or at least bearkind.
Beginning with a flashback to Paddington’s childhood as an adorable bear-cub in Peru, this time we follow the narrative of the little bear trying to get hold of a vintage pop-up book of London, a heartfelt birthday gift for his hero and role model, Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton). As always for the endearing but unlucky bear, the path does not run smooth, with Paddington ending up in many sticky situations: from a failed career attempt as a barber, to landing in prison, culminating in a climactic great train chase.
The casting of the film is yet again faultless, with comic appearances from the likes of Joanna Lumley, Noah Taylor, Jessica Hynes and Richard Ayoade, along with familiar faces including Jim Broadbent as the loveable Mr Gruber, and Whishaw’s naïve and extremely British voice proving that he is completely perfect for the role of Paddington. The true star of the show, however, has got to be Hugh Grant as the villain, Phoenix Buchanan. Perhaps it is not surprising that he slips so naturally into the role of a has-been, sub-par actor who displays framed photographs of himself in his heyday in his own living room, but the result is perfect comic timing, hilarious vanity and a complete vision of self-obsession.
The true spirit of the film lies in the prison sequences, in which Paddington manages to effortlessly form a beautiful friendship with the hardened criminal Knuckles McGinty, played brilliantly by the physically imposing Brendan Gleeson. In exquisite sequences, we watch him transform the bleakest of environments into a place reminiscent of the homeliness and warmth which radiates from the Brown’s family home, reinforcing the message that if you find the best in people, they will always give back.
After the passing of Michael Bond earlier this year, the creator of this wonderful, spirited young bear, Paddington 2 will warm hearts and bring a smile to everyone’s face. It just goes to show: Bond has left a legacy that will live on forever in the form of a small bear from darkest Peru.
Film reviewed at Cineworld, Edinburgh.
Image: Studio Canal