Published: 00:02, 08 November 2017
| Updated: 13:18, 08 November 2017
The bare necessities of a fulfilling life will come to you if you follow the paw prints of Michael Bond’s beloved Peruvian bear.
So sayeth director Paul King’s unabashedly sweet, wholesome and crowd-pleasing sequel, which carries a resolutely old-fashioned message of hope and community spirit, with a nimble script co-written by Simon Farnaby.
The villain this time is a scheming theatrical ham, played to the comic hilt by Hugh Grant, who dons a wimple and knight’s armour to steal hidden treasure that should have been claimed by an ancestor.
The actor mercilessly pokes fun at himself – note the floppy-haired portrait from glory days in Four Weddings And A Funeral on the antagonist’s mantelpiece.
Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is happily installed in the attic of 32 Windsor Gardens, family home of fuddy-duddy insurance assessor Henry Brown (Hugh Bonneville), his free-spirited wife Mary (Sally Hawkins) and their children, Judy (Madeleine Harris) and Jonathan (Samuel Joslin).
During a visit to antiques dealer Mr Gruber (Jim Broadbent), Paddington unearths an old “popping book” of London, which would make the perfect present for Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton).
Alas, the one-of-a-kind tome is expensive. Unperturbed, Paddington cleans windows for neighbours and wields a broom in a barber shop to meet the price tag.
Hilariously vain, fading actor Phoenix Buchanan (Grant) steals the book and Paddington is wrongly sentenced to 10 years for “grand theft and grievous barberly harm”.
Behind bars, Paddington meets Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson), who “don’t do nothing for no-one for nothing”. The bear’s innate goodness weakens Knuckles’ resolve and they collaborate in the prison canteen to serve homemade confections to inmates.
Meanwhile, the Browns vow to clear Paddington’s name and Mary identifies Phoenix as a prime suspect. “Actors are some of the most evil, devious people on the planet,” agrees housekeeper Mrs Bird (Julie Walters).“They lie for a living!”
Paddington 2 is delightfully entertaining, with glorious set-pieces including a fantasy sequence. The production design is as vivid as the performances, which include a roguish turn from Gleeson and pratfalls aplenty courtesy of Bonneville.
Once again, Whishaw’s vocal performance tugs our heartstrings, adhering to the sage words of Aunt Lucy: “If you’re kind and polite, everything will come right.”
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