I saw this film with my skeptical 19 and 16-year-old grandchildren. We all loved it. Enough said.
If there was an Oscar for the most surprising film released in this past year, Paddington 2 would win that award. Despite a trailer that made it look pathetically trite, it proves to be an engaging romp for both adults and children.
To begin with, it is significant that it has one of the great casts you are likely to see in any film. How can any movie not be completely enjoyable that stars Hugh Bonneville, the great Sally Hawkins who starred in this year’s sensational The Shape of Water, Julie Waters, the legendary Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson and the phenomenally funny Hugh Grant. They all combine to tell the story of a small bear that gets incarcerated in a London prison on a false conviction and the developing story that proves to be as amusing as it is emotionally rewarding.
In summary, Paddington is a bear that lives in London with the Brown family (led by Mr. Bonneville and Ms. Hawkins). Discovering a pop-up book in an antique store that he wants to get for his Aunt Lucy, the loveable bear who saved him from drowning in the river as a small cub, he is falsely imprisoned for stealing it. What develops is a story centering on both his friends in and out of prison who help him escape as he tries to prove his innocence.
While this film proves to be stunningly engaging, let me close by complimenting Hugh Grant on a brilliant performance. He plays Phoenix Buchanan, a frustrated singer/dancer whose greater talent revolves around his ability to use wonderful disguises that led to Paddington’s incarceration. Mr. Grant is hysterical at every turn, and wait until you see an ending scene where he discovers the secret to his professional success while performing in prison, namely displaying his talents in front of a “captive audience”.