Ben Whishaw (voice), Hugh Grant, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson
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…sure to delight all audiences.
What makes a good family film? What are the ingredients necessary to make a picture that is fulfilling for both kids and adults? Well, whatever the specifics of the recipe, it seems that Paddington 2 has all of it in spades. Visually, director Paul King and director of photography Erik Wilson get terrifically creative, integrating illustrations, faux-pop-up books and of course reality-bending CGI work to craft the film’s world. The title character being generated through computers barely even registers – partly because the effects work is just that good, but also because a bear making sandwiches in a prison kitchen is nowhere near the most fanciful thing to be found here.
The cast, full of British talent that are either household names or rightly should be household names, imbue their characters with such vigour that everyone ends up leaving a pleasant impression by film’s end. Whether it’s Brendan Gleeson as a prison cook, Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley as a talent agent, or Hugh Grant giving the performance of a lifetime as a faded egotistical actor, everyone fits into the puzzle, to say nothing of Ben Whishaw as our favourite bear, giving his impossibly hopeful and optimistic character the right amount of sweetness and light to make this film’s ultimate purpose sink in.
Among many other things, the film medium is exceptionally good at imparting messages onto its audience. Everyone has at least one friend who is able to rattle off quotes from films and TV shows because that is how deeply ingrained media can become in people’s minds. The message that this particular film wants to impart is both incredibly simple and incredibly necessary: Be a good person. Throughout the film, between the hunt of lost treasure, the worries of losing loved ones and even time in jail, Paddington never lets the world get to him. Everywhere he goes, he spreads goodness and manners to everyone he meets, managing to brighten up even the cloudiest of mindsets. As the story carries on, we see that dedication to niceties returns to him tenfold, showing just how much impact being nice can have on others. It seems like such a simple thing and yet, with how fearful people are of difference, it’s apparent that we have managed to lose sight of it. But thankfully, Paddington is right here to give a warm and friendly reminder, with a marmalade sandwich in one hand and a toffee apple in the other.
A family film in the truest sense of the term, Paddington 2 contains so much joy, so much humour and so much sincere emotion that it is sure to delight all audiences. Not only that, it never betrays its own heart. Sweet without a hint of cynicism and silly without a drop of irony, it never tries to be more than it is. And because of that, it succeeds as a funny, emotional and altogether brilliant depiction of one of England’s most beloved childhood characters.