Paddington 2 is just as delightful as the first one

Paddington 2 is just as delightful as the first one

Reuniting numerous original film's cast while welcoming those in new roles, PADDINGTON 2 stars Golden Globe nominee Hugh Bonneville (DOWNTON ABBEY), Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins (BLUE JASMINE), three-time Golden Globe nominee Brendan Gleeson (THE GUARD, INTO THE STORM, IN BRUGES), Oscar nominee Julie Walters (BILLY ELLIOT, EDUCATING RITA), Oscar victor Jim Broadbent (IRIS), and Oscar victor Peter Capaldi (short, FRANZ KAFKA'S IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE), with Golden Globe and BAFTA Award victor Hugh Grant (FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL), and BAFTA victor Ben Whishaw (THE HOLLOW CROWN) as THE VOICE of Paddington.

This movie has many different sensations that change throughout the film. Knowing his aunt very well, he sets off to find an unbelievable present. Paddington phones the Browns who assure him they haven't forgotten him and they know Buchanan is the thief. The series of odd jobs that follows provides ample amounts of Rube Goldbergian slapstick comedy. Gleeson adds a twist to the movie, because, to complement Paddington's charm, he becomes an impromptu companion and the adventures just continue from there.

A botched gig at a barbershop leads to a more successful outing as a window washer, but right as Paddington is about ready to pull the trigger on Aunt Lucy's gift, the book is stolen. It's because these self-righteous, entitled ingrates see themselves as the centre of the universe, and Paddington as a distraction from their self-worth.

The marmalade-loving former orphan Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) has settled into life with the Brown family quite nicely, and the Browns are their usual chaotic selves. Even in a sequel, Bond's furry metaphor survives its animation intact. Hawkins, Bonneville and Grant all go above and beyond, and two dozen United Kingdom entertainers pop up in cameos just to be part of it. For reasons involving a very bad haircut, the judge hearing the case sends the bear to prison for 10 years while the devious burglar walks free. Or Paddington should go back to Peru and meet the rest of his family.

The sequel also gets a stronger villain in High Grant's delightfully daft and dastardly Phoenix Buchanan, an aging thespian who has hung up Yorick's skull and given up Hamlet for dog food commercials. This book would be the next best thing to actually being able to visit in person. Paddington 2 fits his sensibilities in more ways than one. The backgrounds and sets are detailed with a (dare I say it) nearly steampunk edge to the design that gives Paddington's world a hint of magic.

Grant, as well-known as he is, rarely appears in truly family-friendly fare. Paddington imagines Lucy's reaction to the book, and we see a handsome animation sequence where the 3-D computer-animated Paddington takes Lucy on a sightseeing tour of a paper-cutout pop-up London.

Scary Knuckles ends up Paddington's friendCourtesy of Warner Bros.

Obvious and subtly pointed metaphors for immigration aside, Paddington 2 also shows an exponential leap forward for King as a director. The hard stare is still as effective as before, making criminals feel hot with nervousness; the smiles and hugs are genuine enough to make you crave for one yourself. There are several emotionally gutting sequences in Paddington 2, but none perhaps as villainous as Mr. Curry surveying a colour and joy drained Windsor Gardens in our hero's absence and remarking that it's his ideal world. If his previous feature was visually inventive, Paddington 2 is King and company delivering pure eye candy without forsaking any substance. The film is a heartfelt effort to inject a dash of goodness into the world and leave behind a kind message.

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