Have the events of 2017 left you feeling misanthropic and cynical? Are you missing a little kindness and wonder in your life? Allow us to prescribe Paddington 2, a delightfully heartwarming tale about everyone’s favorite marmalade-loving bear.
Ben Whishaw returns as the voice of author Michael Bond’s beloved ursine hero, as do many of the familiar faces who made up 2015’s original film. This time around, Paddington is living in London with his new family, the Browns, and he’s saving up to buy an antique pop-up book for his Aunt Lucy’s birthday. But when a burglar steals the book from a shop one night, Paddington nobly goes in pursuit — only to be mistaken for the thief and sentenced to jail time. The real culprit is Paddington’s neighbor, the washed-up actor Phoenix Buchanan, who pilfered the book to help fund his one-man show. Hugh Grant plays the preening thespian with unabashed camp and more than a little self-parody, and it’s up to Paddington and the Browns to thwart this narcissistic master of disguise and clear the bear’s good name.
Whether Paddington is doing kind deeds for his neighbors or winning over the prison’s cantankerous cook, Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson), he moves through London spreading generosity, joy, and acceptance — a message that’s never preachy but feels particularly powerful in the wake of Brexit. The clever slapstick sequences and chase scenes will entertain children and adults alike, and the entire film sparkles with a Wes Anderson-ish whimsy and a kind heart that’ll leave you feeling warm and fuzzy. Just like the film’s protagonist. A-