Paddington 2 review: Cues from Harry Potter, but a firm anti-Brexit tone
Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson have a ball in this triumphant and lovely family adventure
Paddington, the duffel-coated, Peruvian hero of Michael Bond’s children’s books, is fond of quoting his Aunt Lucy. “If you are kind and polite,” he reminds himself and others throughout this lovely, lovely sequel, “everything will come right”. It’s a mantra that holds him in good stead when he is framed for the theft of an antique pop-up book and, ultimately, sent down.
Happily, even such hardened fellow prisoners as Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson) can be won over with kindness and marmalade sandwiches. Meanwhile, the real culprit – a washed-up actor named Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant) – is using the pop-up book to find clues around London landmarks, clues that will eventually lead to treasure. Can Paddington’s beloved human family thwart this smarmy thespian and bring their bear home?
This terrific family adventure skips gaily between Westminster Abbey, a funfair, and a fast-moving choo-choo train. Hugh Grant preens and puffs magnificently. Brendan Gleeson scowls and softens with similar aplomb. Both look to be having an absolute ball.
Taking cues from Harry Potter, Paddington 2 plays with Englishness but with a firm anti-Brexit tone. Whereas the most recent Richard Curtis film somehow contrived to whitewash London, Paddington 2 proudly flies a flag for multiculturalism. “We opened our hearts to that bear,” bellows token xenophobe Mr Curry (Peter Capaldi), not long before he gets a good telling off.
Once again, Ben Whishaw is note-perfect as the well-mannered CG ursine. The colourful production design and set decoration is as charming as the little bear. The script by Paul King and Simon Farnaby is littered with good all-ages jokes and pratfalls. And, in keeping with the theme of nice manners, the producers have helpfully titled the film Paddington 2 instead of Paddington, infernal colon, something something. A triumph, all round.