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Blu-ray Review: Paddington 2

April 24, 2018

By John Corrado

★★★★ (out of 4)

Everyone’s favourite bear from Peru is back in Paddington 2, a rare sequel that not only lives up to the surprisingly great first film from 2015, but maybe even surpasses it.

Paddington (Ben Whishaw) has gotten used to living in London with Mr. (Hugh Bonneville) and Mrs. Brown (Sally Hawkins) and their two teenaged kids Judy (Madeline Harris) and Jonathan (Samuel Joslin), and has become a mostly beloved addition to the neighbourhood.  But he still finds himself missing his Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton), who took him in as a cub and raised him back in Peru, especially with her birthday coming up.

When Paddington finds the perfect gift for Aunt Lucy at Mr. Gruber’s (Jim Broadbent) antique shop – a collectible pop-up book of London – he becomes determined to make enough money to buy it.  You see, Aunt Lucy is getting old and she was never able to fulfill her dream of visiting London, so Paddington wants to get her the book as a way for her to visit the city in spirit.  But when the pop-up book is stolen by Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant), a failed actor and master of disguise who dreams of being a thespian, Paddington is blamed for the crime and ends up in jail, as those around him try desperately to prove his innocence.

Like the first film, Paddington 2 offers the unique joy of watching a top-notch human cast interacting seamlessly with the lifelike and deeply expressive animated bear, who once again steals our hearts with his true penchant for goodness and doing the right thing.  The film does a beautiful job of showing how Paddington himself is able to make the world a better place, as he brings joy to nearly everyone that he encounters.  A wondrous sequence involving hardened prison chef Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson) springs to mind as an example of how this bear sees the best in everyone, and is able to make the best of any situation and improve the lives of those around him.

There is a magical quality to Paddington 2, not just in the uplifting story, but also in the wondrous production design of the film, which draws inspiration from the work of both Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Wes Anderson.  There is a visual inventiveness to the set pieces here that calls to mind the work of the former, and the attention to detail and pastel hues of the colour palate recall the unmistakable look of the latter’s films.  The unique influences of these two filmmakers was also felt in the first one, and are even more on display here, with the prison scenes in particular feeling visually inspired by Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The first film landed on my top ten list in 2015, and Paddington 2 is every bit its equal, while in some ways even surpassing it.  This is a miracle of a movie, the sort of film that on paper might not seem like it should work as well as it does, but every single scene and story thread comes together brilliantly.  It’s one of those truly special films that has us laughing out loud one moment and with tears welling up in our eyes the very next second, leading up to a final scene that is almost impossible to watch without getting choked up.

What more can I say?  I don’t say this often, but I think Paddington 2 is as close to perfect as they come, both as a sequel and on its own terms.  This is the best movie of 2018 so far by an almost unsurpassable margin, and I’ll be shocked if it’s not still at or near the top of my list come the end of the year.  Every single scene of Paddington 2 is pure joy, and I watched the entire film with a huge smile plastered on my face.  It’s an absolutely wonderful film, and one that I couldn’t recommend more highly.

The Blu-ray also includes a commentary track by writer-director Paul King, the featurettes Paddington: The Bear Truth, How to Make a Marmalade Sandwich, The Magical Mystery of Paddington’s Pop-Up Book, The Browns and Paddington: A Special Bond, Knuckles: A Fistful of Marmalade and The (Once) Famous Faces of Phoenix Buchanan, and a music video which is essentially an isolated version of the end credits scene.

Paddington 2 is a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release.  It’s 104 minutes and rated G.

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