Paddington 2 Film Review

Paddington 2 is as sweet as marmalade

Close your eyes and try to imagine a film without barbaric violence and crass humor, one that is as freeing as it is enchanting soaring beyond the realm of the concept of modern entertainment. A movie that teaches the scrupulous proper manner of how we are to behave while never becoming the derivative cringe inducing lesson our parents taught us all so many years ago. That whimsical picture that was just on your mind probably looks a lot like 'Paddington 2', a sequel that is as saccharine and innocent as a marmalade sandwich. Just three years ago to the month the original effervescent animated feature blessed the cinemas with its charm and manners standing out among the underdeveloped formulaic waste that tends to consist of mindless spectacle in January. Yet there is nothing mindless here. The euphoric and sharp animation seen here could warrant itself a place on the walls of art that our lovable protagonist so admires throughout the films hour and a forty-five minute run time. Tasked with being a wide release on the same weekend as Steven Spielberg's 'The Post', 'Paddington 2' has important messages for audiences as well. Messages that speak on the necessary topic of immigration, however, at its core it's a message about the human soul, and what better way to pitch it then through the eyes of the worlds most adorable bear.

'Paddington 2' starts where the first concluded. Paddington, of course, is accompanied by the facsimile of a perfect family(The Browns) who have taken him in with open arms and grins from ear to ear, where he nestles into their quaint London home. Much like the audience, the neighbors soon take a liking to the bear as he lends a helping hand to those in need, spreading joy to all those that cross paths with his optimistic "if we're kind and polite, the world will be right" outlook. Nonetheless, it does not take long for problems to arise, starting with an attempt to purchase a one of a kind pop-up book boasting picturesque London streets for his aunt Lucy, who is removed from Paddington's life, with aspirations to one day see London herself. In trying to collect money for the expensive book, we get some of the movies belly-aching laughs, flirting with being as cunning and humane in its physical comedy as Chaplin. Much like "the tramp" in 'Modern Times' and 'City Lights', Paddington is seen indifferent from the rest of the world, yet despite being ridiculed for his incapacity to complete simple tasks he manages to still find the life in those around him. Here, in attempts to clean his neighbor's windows or cut one's hair, we are accompanied by the same lighthearted fish out of water humor as seen in Chaplin's best. Propitiously the laughs and sentiment don't end here, as they follow our hero through jail, escape, and limitless adventure.

To balance elation and heartbreak gracefully is no small feat, one that director Paul King does with poise as to not overstep into a disproportionate catastrophe. A task nearly as sumptuous as his ability translate the relatively bland post World War source material into a modern entertaining allegory that never fatigues and is always captivating. Doing so as to make it look easy, something that the entire cast does as well, conveying larger than life characters many of which could have been plucked right out of a quirky Wes Anderson film. Among the English genteel actors are
Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins, who camp it up as the parents who adopted Paddington. And along the busy journey all the plots and subplots coalesce around the friendly bear as he builds friendships with Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson) and fellow inmates by rupturing their cynical facades through his morals and marmalade sandwiches. Somehow the free spiritedness does not crack the films cunning and elusive villain Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant), who scene-stealing screwy antics seem to always one up each other as he plays a hammy magician who is just one of the pieces that transport you into the world on screen.

As a child my parents would read me fascinating children's stories before bed. I would lay there imagining with youthful wonder the laudably adventures that would traverse my thoughts into my dreams. Novels like 'Paddington', who's advantageous ideas became a tool to teach me lessons on manner never bored. Now all these years later the story presents itself more of a revelation than a bedtime story, one that in a season of films one could hardly bear,  it's a bear that comes to save the day.