Friday, December 21, 2018

Movie with Abe: Paddington 2

Paddington 2
Directed by Paul King
Released January 12, 2018

There’s something about a well-received sequel that can really help to attract a far wider audience. This reviewer would never have thought it would be necessary to sit down to watch a PG-rated comedy about a talking bear who mysteriously is accepted by all the humans around him, but when it receives top-tier nominations from BAFTA, the British equivalent of the Academy Awards, and a spot on the top ten films of the year from Time Magazine, it’s clear that, no matter how far away from normally appealing genres it may be, it’s probably worth checking out.

Paddington (Ben Whishaw) lives a wonderful life in London with Henry Brown (Hugh Bonneville), Mary Brown (Sally Hawkins), and their children, brightening the days of those in the neighborhood with his genuine goodness and determination to make everyone smile. The person he most seeks to please is his Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton), who never had the chance to visit London before settling in a retirement home. When he finds the perfect book to give her, it is stolen just as he makes the money he needs to buy it by the duplicitous actor Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant). Sent to prison for a theft he didn’t commit, Paddington must band together with his fellow prisoners and set out both to prove his innocence and get back that book for his beloved aunt.

This premise is certainly ambitious, not even including the CGI necessary to insert this animated bear into nearly every scene. The fact that no one questions that Paddington is a talking bear may have been explained in the first film, which this reviewer has not seen, but it’s actually an asset because he fits in so well with the humans around him in nature even if his physical stature often leads to hijinks and embarrassment. Just as all the characters come to understand, it’s easy to love Paddington, because what he cares most about in the world – aside from marmalade – is making everyone he meets happy.

The actor who has primarily received acclaim for this film is Grant, who is definitely experiencing a career resurgence after “Florence Foster Jenkins” and the miniseries “A Very English Scandal,” in which Whishaw also stars. He is absolutely having fun making his villainous character as extravagant as possible, committing fully to the premise of a film that some might not have taken as seriously. The way in which all of the members of its impressive cast give this their all is part of why it works, a fun adventure which really can be enjoyed by the whole family or really by anyone sitting down to watch.


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