Paddington 2 (2018)
I express myself in film. If there’s anything that’ll actually impact my mood, it’s a film. Paddington 2 is the perfect antidote to a bad mood. Following up the better than I could have imagined first venue, the sequel manages to improve upon the original formula, acquiring emotional growth, stronger performances, and continues the education that a person’s background is not the descriptor of their citizenship. In this feature, a mistaken burglary lands our ursine hero behind bars with the Browns trying to find him way out. A rollicking good time, this is children’s cinema for the ages.
Witty and inventive, the movie steps up just a bit in all regards. There’s a similar feeling thanks to the return of director Paul King, this time co-writing with comedian Simon Farnaby, but they up the action and keep the joy and impact. Expanding on the character’s refugee themes, Paddington finds himself without broader support in the courts after a sticky situation, marmalade included, with the crime scene, and anti-immigrant sentiment from nearby bigots (Peter Capaldi taking the doctor to racist areas). The impact stretches worldwide as xenophobia is hardly a UK problem. With DACA threatened daily, Paddington stings in a similar way in America. Wrapped in a cozy bun, there’s some strength behind the movie, even a bit to get an old movie snob like me misty-eyed.
The courageous Browns coming to the bear’s aid, the film of course has a happy ending. The journey gives us a sharper, more outgoing Mrs Brown, capping a tremendous year for Sally Hawkins, and an even quirkier villain with Hugh Grant as a multi-costumed washed up actor. The scenery chewing is so spot on bonkers that mannequin-to-mannequin plotting feels like a Bond-style villains’ table. Grant is a grimacing Shakespearean actor unable to escape his natural charm and narcissism. Paired with the snappy pacing, his villain darts through his costume changes to be a vaudevillian marvel for his delightful, crafty actor.
The production crew certainly tops themselves. Mark Everson, who did fantastic work on the first film, is paired with Baby Driver’s Oscar nominated editor Jonathan Amos for a speedy, solid combination of visual gags, computer animation integration, intricate cut scenes, and perfectly compliments the brightly lit, clever shots from DP Erik Wilson, another returning crewmember. With Oscar winner Lindy Hemmings (Topsy-Turvy, Wonder Woman) and production designer Gary Williamson expanding his original concepts, the bright houses and oddly adorable prison and character accentuating, where-do-I-buy-that-for-me sweaters. The visual spectacle is more than just the visual effect, impressive themselves for the bear, the dog, and the world interactions. This movie is fun!
Paddington earned a reputation in his neighborhood as an all-around good guy. He’s likely the best role model a parent could ever want for their child, though his marmalade obsession doesn’t bode well for cavities or diabetes prevention. He is unerringly polite but bold in his stands. He handles his troubles with confidence while offering apology for any overstepping. The film encourages handling one’s difficult situations with calm demeanor and strength. The film teaches lessons vital to polite society. The lack of American audiences is a tragic miss; especially for any parent who opted for The Emoji Movie last year. Lessons about temper, the immigrant experience, the importance of journalism, following ones passions regardless of appearance, and bold but kind behavior earning favorable response: these are lessons we could only pray future generations obtain.