Paddington (Ben Whishaw) is hurtling down Peruvian jungle rapids when spotted by Lucy (Imelda Staunton) and Pastuzo (Michael Gambon) who are perched comfortably above the water eating Marmalade sandwiches. Lucy shimmies down to pluck the cub out of the water sensing immediately that he will become family as the rescuee immediately munches happily on a marmalade sandwich. The scene shifts ahead to Windsor Gardens, London where older Paddington resides with the Brown family. He is the link that makes his neighbourhood go searching for the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy's 100th birthday. He finds it in Mr. Gruber (Jim Broadbent) antique store a rare and thought lost pop up book of London which fits the bill as Aunt Lucy has always wanted to come to London.
The Browns take Paddington to Madame Koziova's circus where Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant) a washed up one-man show performer has opening duties. He calls on Paddington to assist learning of the pop-up book that he knows is worth more than the price Paddington is expected to pay. Paddington takes a job in his neighbourhood washing windows in a unique manner to raise the funds to meet the price that Mr. Gruber has put on the book.
The CGI team lead by the CGI artists from Rodeo FX is key in bringing Paddington to life. He interacts fluidly with the live actors not looking even a little bit out of step. The Art department shows their prominence early as Paddington flips open the pop-up book dropping into it as its pieces begin to move ushering Aunt Lucy into London harbour on an ocean liner. The also craft the Brown neighbourhood along with another unexpected local where Paddington unexpectantly spends a lot of time during the piece. Director Paul King puts all of the elements together spinning a yarn that is very much in the Wes Anderson realm especially in the venue of Paddington's unexpected pit stop.
Sally Hawkins leads the human cast as Mary Brown. She is the family matriarch very welcoming to Paddington and a key figure in helping the bear out when he gets in a serious jam. It's also intriguing to see her character tied closely to water for her second outing in a row following her turn in Shape of Water. Julie Waters is effective as Mrs. Bird the sage family housekeeper that is the first to sniff out the true nature Phoenix Buchanan. As Phoenix Buchanan Hugh Grant continues a recent run of impact full smaller roles. Look for Brendan Gleeson as a key player and ally of Paddington when he hands in a spot where he never thought he would end up.
Paddington 2 has solid lessons for kids and adults alike. The narrative speaks to the strength of family, being true and locally to friends and that kindness triumphs over cruelness. The storyline is straightforward but engaging featuring strong work from the below the line departments mixed with a strong ensemble cast making it a film that I can highly recommend.
*** 1/2 Out of 4.
Paddington 2 | Paul King | UK/ France /USA | 2018 | 104 Minutes.
Tags: London, Window Washing, Barbershop, Pop Up Book, Master of Disguise, Prison Sentence, Marmalade.