Paddington 2 Still
Ben Whishaw provides the voice for the title bear in co-writer-director Paul King’s family comedy sequel, ‘Paddington 2.’

Title: ‘Paddington 2’

Director: Paul King (‘Paddington’)

Starring: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington

Uncovering their rightful place in society, no matter how polite and full of heart they are, can be a frightening experience for anyone. But that daunting adventure can be even more terrifying for a young person-or bear-who has unwavering faith in the kindness of others. That charmingly innocent confidence is powerfully tested once again in the upcoming compelling family comedy sequel, ‘Paddington 2,’ which is the follow-up to the hit 2014 movie, ‘Paddington,’ and is set to be released in the U.S.on Friday by Warner Bros.

Much like the original movie, which is one of the most successful family films of all time, ‘Paddington 2’ is based on the ‘Paddington Bear’ children’s books by Michael Bond. The follow-up marks the return of franchise director, Paul King, who also co-wrote the latest script with Simon Farnaby The new story stays true to the iconic bear’s signature journey, which powerfully emphasizes that no matter how self-assured anyone appears to be, they can also be a bit vulnerable and in need of assistance, no matter how self-assured they appear to be.

Paddington 2‘ begins with the title bear remembering when he first met his Aunt Lucy (voiced by Imelda Staunton) and Uncle Pastuzo (voiced by Michael Gambon) in a Peruvian river when he was a cub. After raising Paddington into the bear he is today, Aunt Lucy is now living in a retirement home for bears, while he’s enjoying his new life with the Brown family in London. With Aunt Lucy’s birthday fast approaching, Paddington decides to buy a pop-up book of his new city from his community antique dealer, Mr. Gruber (Jim Broadbent), as she has always wanted to visit the English capital.

As Paddington then begins to work at several different jobs, including as a barber’s assistant and window cleaner, in order to raise money to buy the book, he reveals his plans to purchase it to his new neighbor in Windsor Gardens, Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant). Phoenix is an aging, vain thespian, who has been relegated to appearing in dog food commercials. In order to raise money to bring his one-man show to the stage, he decides to steal the book, as he knows that it contains clues to find a hidden treasure. During the theft at Mr. Gruber’s store, Paddington tries unsuccessfully to capture the culprit, and is unaware that it’s actually Phoenix.

Unfortunately, the police are led to believe that Paddington is the one who stole the book, and a judge sentences him to a lengthy 10-year prison sentence. While there, the bear insists on looking for the good in everyone, just like his Aunt Lucy told him he should. With the support of the Brown family, including patriarch Henry (Hugh Bonneville), matriarch Mary (Sally Hawkins) and their two children, Judy (Madeleine Harris and Jonathan (Samuel Joslin), as well as his new friend, fierce head chef Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson), Paddington sets out to clear his name. In the process, he also works to prove that he’s still the caring bear that his Aunt Lucy raised and can be proud of, and finally secure the book for her birthday, once and for all.

‘Paddington 2’ is a smart, emotional and amusing sequel that both pays homage to the original film, while also creating its own unique and memorable storyline. Returning to the series as the co-writer and the director of the follow-up, King once again crafted the perfect adventure comedy that powerfully emphasizes the importance of family and accepting everyone for who they are, no matter what mistakes they have seemingly made. While the Brown family and their neighbors maintain their faith that their beloved bear is innocent of the crime he’s been charged with, Paddington’s natural charm and wit also convince his new fellow inmates, most notably Knuckles, the importance of believing in the best of people, no matter what circumstances they’re faced with.

The affectionate and emotional arc of Paddington not only wanting to prove his innocence, but also maintaining positive relationships with the Browns, his Aunt Lucy and his fellow prisoners, is stunningly aided by the seamless digital integration of the animated talking bear into the live-action sequences that are set across London. The franchise’s second entry lives up to its predecessor, as the animators and VFX team stunningly blended the animation into the live action. Whether the talking bear is interacting with his customers as he’s washing windows, chasing a disguised Phoenix down the streets of the city, as he attempts to rescue the pop-up book, or making his beloved orange marmalade sandwiches along with Knuckles in the jail’s kitchen, Paddington naturally fits in with his surroundings.

‘Paddington 2’ is timeless sequel that’s the perfect, feel good story for not just families, but everyone who enjoys a heart-warming adventure. The follow-up perfectly likes up to its predecessor, as it features the same sentimental and humorous rapport between the cast that was featured in, and helped make a classic out of, the first film. The comedy also not only intriguingly incorporates thrilling and captivating animation and special effects into its live action, but also captivatingly encourages viewers to follow in Paddington’s path, and appreciate everyone around them, no matter how different they are from each other.

Technical: A

Acting: B+

Story: B+

Overall: B+

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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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