Paddington 2


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I had heard wonderful things about Paddington 2 before I saw it. The reviews have been very complementary and a good friend of mine whose tastes and movie watching habits are not far from my own had emphatically told me that it was his film of the year; even better than Dunkirk. As it started though I didn’t instantly connect with it. It seemed a little obvious in places and Mr Gruber’s accent was going to some very strange places. I feared my expectations had been raised and I was heading for disappointment. Then there was a scene where everyone’s favourite North West London bear imagines himself wandering round a pop up book surrounded by loose cardboard cutout drawings of people and scenery and I was transported back to the TV show of my youth, instantly being reminded of how much I love this character and how much this film incarnation of him reflects and enhances everything that has been great about him since the 1950s. From this point I completely shook off my confused consternation and was utterly utterly charmed by every second of the remaining ninety five minutes. 

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The central conceit of the Paddington books was that the well meaning but clumsy cub constantly got himself into trouble when trying to complete simple tasks, be it making toffee, decorating a room or mowing the lawn. There is a strong element of this in this new movie as Paddington tries his hand at a few jobs so that he can buy the aforementioned pop up book as a birthday present for his Aunt Lucy. These sequences are carefully tied into the story though and the whole adventure is tightly plotted as Paddington gets caught up in a crime and entangled with a resourceful but marginally deranged malefactor. The need to involve Paddington in a Hollywood style plot jarred with me a little in the first movie but here they have handled it better. Clearly I was more ready for it this time but the adventure just seems a lot more British in its sensibilities. Gone is the gun toting femme fatale and enter centre stage the eccentric actor with the range of ridiculous disguises. The movie riffs on great English comedy conventions from Chaplin to Wallace & Gromit via Shakespeare and Porridge all the while still being totally true to Michael Bond’s delightful stories. 

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The one thing that is missing is Paddington’s domestic activities with the Browns. Our ursid hero is actually separated from his adoptive family for much of the film and the children in particular, Judy and Jonathan, do not get as much of a character arc. This is an acceptable price to pay for the appearance of some new players though including Hugh Grant’s fun villain. It isn’t quite the comedy creation to rival his voice work in Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists but it’s close and it is one of the highlights of the movie. 

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While it showcases much that should be honoured about those that live on our shores then, Paddington 2 is not as good as Dunkirk but it is a wonderful film that will entertain and enchant anyone from four to four score years and ten. To quote the line very clearly spoken in this year’s Marks & Spencer’s Christmas ad, ‘Thank you little bear’. 

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Is this one for the kids?

This is most certainly one for the kids demonstrating more warmth, humour and sophistication than a million Minions.

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The Ripley Factor:

The most heroic person in the film is without any doubt Sally Hawkins’ Mrs Brown and she drives the plot even more than the title character. The woman is a genuine icon of female strength and empowerment. Wonder Woman, Super Girl, Ellen Ripley, Katniss Everdeen, Mrs Brown. She’s like James Bond, Indiana Jones and Lara Croft all rolled together in a roll neck jumper.

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