Paddington 2 is one of the best movies ever made - there, I said it.
Paddington 2 is one of the best movies ever made - there, I said it. What other film has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a diverse cast with a combined total of 84 BAFTA wins and nominations, which also features Hugh Grant disguised as an unusually attractive nun?
Paul King’s 2017 family comedy tells the story of how Paddington, the nation’s favourite polite Peruvian bear, tries to get the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, only for his quest to go massively off track when he’s wrongfully sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. However, even as its plot becomes increasingly fantastical, Paddington 2 never once loses its heart or misses a beat. Paul King and Simon Farnaby’s screenplay is a treasure trove: from Charlie Chaplin esque comedic sequences to big steam-train based action set pieces, to smaller, more tender moments that won’t leave a dry eye in the house - it truly has it all. It is equally heartfelt as it is hilarious, a gem that is only found once in a blue moon.
Every performance by the all star cast is pitch-perfect. Ben Whishaw’s Paddington is just as sweet as the marmalade sandwiches he eats, equally as charming and lovable as in the first outing. Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins are delightful as Henry and Mary Brown: Hawkins gives Mary a quiet but dynamic magnetism as she determinedly fights to prove Paddington’s innocence, whilst Bonneville again proves his comedic chops as Henry suffers an unfortunate mid-life crisis. Knuckles McGinty, the prison’s hot-headed cook with a violent past, is given depth by Brendan Gleeson as he slowly lets down his guard and develops a friendship with Paddington. Short but sweet cameos from national treasures Richard Ayoade and Joanna Lumley are also standouts.
However, even amongst such a great cast, there is one actor that truly steals the show (and a very special pop up book of London). Hugh Grant’s cravat-wearing, spectacularly named villain Phoenix Buchanan is an over-the-hill thesp, who goes to extreme lengths to get his career going again and finally launch his dream one man show in the West End. Buchanan takes on the personas of various different eccentric characters in order to complete his scheme and Grant embodies each one flawlessly. Grant relishes in the fun of this role, fully embracing Buchanan’s utter campness - a stark contrast to Grant’s former reputation as a Hollywood heartthrob. Grant shows a complete lack of vanity and a great sense of humour as he effectively mocks his own career, as Buchanan’s house is covered in pictures of Grant from his Notting Hill days. In Vanity Fair last year, Grant himself said about Paddington 2 that he “genuinely believe(s) it may be the best film (he’s) ever been in” and indeed, it is arguably one of Grant’s best performances to date too.
It is not just the performances or the screenplay that make* Paddington 2* stand out - it is also a technical marvel. It is easy to forget that Paddington himself is a CGI creation as he is superbly brought to life, fitting in seamlessly throughout the whole film. Animation is also used to make some of the film’s most stunning moments: one particular scene at the start of the film stands out, as London shifts from reality into the pages from a pop up book. Paddington 2’s gorgeous and well-executed visuals add to the film’s charm: Paul King’s direction is astute and sincere, the cinematography is beautiful and the storybook-like colour scheme of the costume and set design makes the film at some points evocative of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. The score by Dario Marianelli is bright and lively, a perfect musical accompaniment which sets the tone of the film.
At a time in which the news just gets more depressing by the day, cinema can serve as an effective tonic to help cure some of this sadness. *Paddington 2 *is the perfect example of this; every second of Paddington 2’s 104 minute runtime is pure joy. The message at the core of this film is the importance of supporting and uplifting those around you, whether your friends, your family or your community- an idea that could not be more crucial in this current climate. Paddington 2 is the cinematic equivalent of a hug from a loved one and, let’s be honest, that’s a hug that we all probably need right now.