PADDINGTON 2 picks up soon after the first, when the Peruvian bear thwarted taxidermist Millicent Clyde (Nicole Kidman in the first PADDINGTON) with a marmalade sandwich. Now, Paddington is living comfortably in London with Henry and Mary Brown (Hugh Bonneville, DOWNTON ABBEY; Sally Hawkins, THE SHAPE OF WATER) with few worries on his mind.
That is, until a special book Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw, who now plays Q in the Bond franchise) wants to purchase for his Aunt Lucy goes missing. Having proven himself an upright citizen of the community–reminding locals to bring their keys when leaving the house, quizzing trash men on the fastest routes, etc.–it’s a bit of a surprise when Paddington is found to be guilty of having stolen the valuable pop-up book. (Then again, the plot has to get moving somehow…) And so Paddington must find the true perpetrator, who turns out to be a failed actor named Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant, FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS), recognized more for dog food commercials than anything else.
So begins Paddington’s latest adventure, which finds him in jail and then breaking out of it, resulting in the continuation of his and the Browns’ quest to clear Paddington’s name and put Buchanan behind bars. (Curiously–but also fittingly, considering its family-friendly tone–there is no mention of the issue of potentially having freed various actual criminals.) Every viewer will know how this all turns out (Paddington surely won’t be turned into a small rug, Buchanan surely won’t make off with the millions he so desires), but that almost never matters with a film like this. What matters most is that the filmmakers capture the spirit that these viewers care about.
This is an admirable adventure, purposeful in its story and vibrant in its colors. It is an absolute treat, from its cast–Ben Whishaw does stellar voicework, Hugh Grant has never been more entertaining–to its visuals, which consistently offer treats. (One need look no further than the absolute delight of the pop-up book sequence, which finds Paddington and Aunt Lucy chasing about London via the book format.)
Sequels tend to get a bad rap (often, it should be admitted, for good enough reason). But PADDINGTON 2 is just what one would hope for, committing to the tone and still respecting the source while enriching the characters and their stories. Like its 2014 predecessor (also directed by Paul King), it is something wholesome to enjoy for young and old, to completely disregard avoiding a cliche. That PADDINGTON 3 is on the way doesn’t make eye roll or make one consider series fatigue. It’s entirely welcome, certainly nearly guaranteed to be another winning charmer.
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Details, textures and colors are wonderful, adding to the overall delight of the film.
Audio: English Dolby Atmos-TrueHD; English Descriptive Audio 5.1; French 5.1 Dolby Digital; Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles in English, French and Spanish. The audio is also great, with clean dialogue and effective music.
Audio commentary by director/co-writer Paul King: King offers an enjoyable and easy track, although company from the cast would have been welcome.
Paddington: The Bear Truth (5:20): Interviewees discuss the appeal, charm and lessons of Paddington.
How to Make a Marmalade Sandwich (2:42) offers a quick recipe.
Music Video with Phoenix Buchanan (1:34) features Hugh Grant’s character doing a song and dance.
The Magic Mystery of Paddington’s Pop-Up Book (3:03) provides a look at the film’s most dazzling sequence.
The Browns and Paddington: A Special Bond (5:43): This featurette looks at the recurring characters and actors.
Knuckles: A Fistful of Marmalade (2:30) puts focus on the prison chef played by Brendan Gleeson.
The (Once) Famous Faces of Phoenix Buchanan (3:45) shifts the focus to Grant’s character.