January 18, 2018

CINEMA | Marmalade Dreams – Everybody Loves 'Paddington 2'

"If we're kind and polite, the world will be right."
Ben Whishaw Paul King | Paddington 2

I return to the Vertical Viewing Podcast (available on iTunes) for Episode 155 to review the universally acclaimed Paddington 2 and talk about the latest in film alongside regular co-hosts Scott Willson and Michael Lynd. (1h19)

Co-writer/director Paul King bears even more fruit (and marmalade) the second time around once again adapting children's author Michael Bond's classic Paddington Bear stories. Paddington 2 expands on its joyful expression of doing good and the acceptance of others while ever so slyly commenting on contemporary British politics in the wake of Brexit.

The very pleasant Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins return to ground the sequel as the very British heads of a wholesome nuclear family. Somehow, Ben Whishaw still perfectly captures the digitally-animated bear's youthful, innocent, and exuberant voice just ever so charmingly. All of the performances fit the bear tale's slightly heightened tone recreating the visuals of the storybook sublimely.

An inspired Hugh Grant, who's clearly having so much fun, is so lively and charismatic as a very dastardly, washed up actor, Phoenix Buchanan, who frames Paddington for a crime in the role of the big baddie (taking over for Nicole Kidman). His theatrical commentary on his own status as a past-his-prime performer is beyond amusing and strikes the right balance of watchable villainy for a family film.

Ben Whishaw Paul King | Paddington 2
Photo credit | Horseshoe Designs
There's quite an amusing prison plotline that furthers Paddington's ability to make friends and build meaningful relationships with anyone he comes in contact with despite any differences. His talent for positively impacting the lives of others is never more pleasantly contrasted than when he's partnered with a hard-nosed prison leader, Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson), when the pair and other inmates bond over a shared love of marmalade. The bear even makes prison fun and bearable.

The lightweight, low-stakes but high value comedy adventure is perfectly scripted, planned out, and executed with every setup being nicely paid off. Essentially a loose remake of the first film with many of the same plot beats and callbacks, the sequel builds upon the classic children's tale with visual inventiveness and a true sense of original wonder—think Wes Anderson level of production design but toned down to fit the storybook structure and digital animation.

Paddington 2 is a perfectly fitting piece of wholesome, family-friendly entertainment full of hope, kindness, and just plain goodness. The pure joy the sequel expresses never feels forced or unearned. It's a magical yet real world balance throughout—where London is a modern marvel of a city. It's simply  a sweet, polite, and wholly pleasant experience that has never made marmalade look so tasty.

More | YVArcade / AV Club / Indiewire / The Playlist / Vox

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