I was worried about two things going into this movie. The first, is the amount of children at the screening. I had reason to worry. As usual, people brought babies and toddlers that are so young, no matter what was on the screen, they wouldn’t be entertained. They yelled, ran up and down the stairs, and couldn’t sit still for an hour and a half. Be prepared for all the parents that will show up and not care if you can hear the movie or not.
The second thing I worried about was the fact that I didn’t see the first one. Perhaps there was stuff in the first film that showed the bear eating marmalade and causing havoc that I’d need to be privy to to enjoy this. Haha!
Surprisingly, despite the 3-year-olds that wouldn’t keep quiet, the movie was rather enjoyable.
The movie combines CGI and live action with beautiful results, much as Beauty and the Beast did last year. The set pieces are gorgeous.
So, the bear is enjoying life with his adopted family in London. He decides he’ll buy a rare pop-up book about London, since it was his aunt’s dream to go there (a terrific visual shows Paddington walking amongst the pop-up characters).
Jim Broadbent plays the store owner (one of many fun casting choices) that wants $1,000 for the book. Paddington decides he’ll need a job, and we get a lot of the physical humor that didn’t quite work for me, but kids will love. Watching the fuzzy guy attempt to cut hair or wash windows, had the crowd of kids roaring with laughter.
The second great casting choice, was having Hugh Grant play Phoenix Buchanan — a former big name actor now relegated to doing dog food commercials and carnival openings. When he finds out the book may have clues to hidden treasures, he steals it from the shop.
Paddington ends up getting fingered (or maybe it’s “pawed”), and is looking at a tough stretch in prison. Made even tougher when he’s doing the laundry and lets a red sock turn the prisoners’ garb pink.
While the Browns (Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins, who had a much more intimate relationship with the last creature she worked with in The Shape of Water) try to crack the case to clear his name, he’s dealing with the prison heavies. The most interesting is another brilliant casting move — Brendan Gleeson as Knuckles McGinty. He’s the chef in prison that everyone (including the guards) are afraid of. Nothing better than the visual of him showing up in Paddington’s cell at 5 a.m., getting right into his face and saying, “Wakey, wakey! It’s marmalade time.” It’s a phrase I’d never want to hear in prison from a guy everyone fears.
Based on the children’s books by the late Michael Bond, I was afraid this would be really cheesy. And a few times it was. Yet it has so much heart, and reminded me of how much I enjoyed Babe when it came out (though it’s nowhere as good as that was). It does warm the heart and is something the whole family can enjoy.
3 stars out of 5.