Welcome back, Paddington. After three years away, we reunite with the Peruvian-turned-Londoner and the charming Brown family, surrounded by their lovably bumbling neighbours. The film is as sweet as the marmalade the bear famously eats. Everything is hunky dory until Paddington’s search for the perfect present for dear Aunt Lucy sets in motion events which fling us across London’s gleaming cityscape. We fly from the Shard to St Paul’s by way of a mysterious pop-up book and a wrongful imprisonment, finishing, almost inevitably, at Paddington Station with a high-speed climax.
Armed with no more than an unwavering etiquette (Manners Maketh Bear) and total faith in the healing powers of marmalade sandwiches, Paddington reaffirms the importance of family and community in these increasingly cynical times.
Ben Whishaw (the bear himself) leads the returning cast of plucky Brits, including Sally Hawkins and Hugh Bonneville, with a hammy Brendan Gleeson joining to play sweet-toothed prison cook, Knuckles (“With a capital N!”). Kudos must go to Hugh Grant as a dastardly villain, who fits rather too perfectly into his role as an out-of-work, has-been actor, parading around in various disguises with cravat-twirling glee.
A heartfelt sequel, this is the duffle-coated, floppy-hatted bear at his very best. The film plays out much the same as its predecessor, but fills itself with even more ursine antics, bundles of love, and quaint tomfoolery. It is impossible not to smile after watching a montage of Paddington’s stint as a window-cleaner (after all, who needs sponges when you have fur?). Indeed, Paddington’s naivety and his willingness to lend a helping paw is bound to give everyone furry – feelings. It’s a warm (bear) hug of a movie, just in time for Christmas.
Winnie the Who? Paddington’s adorable second adventure should earn him the title of Britain’s favourite bear.