Paddington 2 review: The Paw-shank Redemption

Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures via WB Press
Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures via WB Press /

With the first film being a surprise success worldwide, the story of famed children’s literature character, Paddington Brown, was sure to continue in a sequel. Four years later, that sequel has come to life, as director Paul King has helped create the much-anticipated sequel, Paddington 2.

Before 2014, you would be hard-pressed to find many Americans who claim Paddington Brown to be among their most treasured childhood memories. Although the stores of Paddington have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, his polite charm was mostly exclusive to folks in the United Kingdom, becoming a staple for British children’s literature. His gracious and generous personality, sweet charm and general love of life is something that can easily translate to film, a thought which Paul King shared, as he adapted the story into a 2014 film, Paddington, to great critical and commercial success. Naturally, the first film’s success warranted a sequel down the line, which has now arrived in the form of Paddington 2.

Part of the first film’s reason for success was the adorably naive but kind nature of Paddington. No matter how chaotic his situation was, Paddington approached it with the utmost respect and restraint that set him apart from other anthropomorphic creatures on the big screen. He wasn’t obnoxious or try-hard: he was simply a fish (bear) out of water which, unfortunately for him, set up some great comedic sequences at his expense. Paddington 2 attempts to adopt that same dynamic that made him so watchable, but with a few new wrinkles thrown in there to spice things up. But does Paddington 2 thrive or suffer because of that?

Paddington 2
Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures via WB Press /

Rogue-y Bear

Paul King’s sequel reintroduces Paddington Brown (Ben Winshaw) to the audience while updating his situation: he still lives with the Brown family (Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin and Julie Walters) and he still writes to his Aunt Lucy as much as he can. Writing isn’t enough, as Paddington aims to give his aunt a pop-up book of London, so she can feel right at home with her nephew. To do so, Paddington puts his nose to the grindstone as he attempts to enter the workforce to help pay for the expensive pop-up book. But his naive nature and the dastardly plans of an insane actor (Hugh Grant) land him in jail, where Paddington is forced to deal with inmates as his family tries to clear his name. That’s right, Paddington 2 is a jail movie. Don’t worry, there’s no harsh prison violence in this, a la Brawl in Cell Block 99.

Paddington 2
Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures via WB Press /

More from Hidden Remote

Rather, the story of Paddington 2, much akin to its charming predecessor, plays out like a live children’s tale of sorts. Reality, while still being stable and somewhat coherent, is added with a large dash of magical sensation that stays incredibly consistent throughout. There’s an awareness to Paddington 2, but not the kind that relies on lazy self-awareness jokes to attempt to seem hip with its audience. Paul King presents a quirky, spellbinding and charming universe that is fully comfortable with what it is and is more than glad to let the audience have fun with, even at crazier moments within the prison (as well as a charmingly illogical final act). Paddington 2 may not always rely on logic to drive its story, but for a children’s tale like this, too much logic can be quite the chore to sit through, hence the film’s ability to convey such a pleasant tone throughout.

“Oh my God, he’s a weirdo”

Adding to the fantasy nature of Paddington 2 is the wonderful assortment of characters, played by talented and respectful actors. What do I mean by respectful? Here’s the thing: children’s movies have something of a sad reputation to their name. Sure, there are MORE than a fair share of children’s schlock that exist and with that comes the stereotype that children’s movies are “paycheck movies.” Many don’t view children’s films as too demanding, hence the reason for its reputation. But Paddington 2 does away with that stereotype in the form of talented actors bringing their A-game to elevate the quality of this charming British kid’s film.

Paddington 2
Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures via WB Press /

Returning cast members include the members of the Brown family, headed by Hugh Bonneville and the recently Oscar-nominated actress, Sally Hawkins. While their characters remain virtually the same as the first film, little details, such as Bonneville’s Henry Brown adopting a much kinder, though still somewhat uptight personality are present to give the actors some fresher aspects of their characters to chew, which they do with gusto. The Brown family remains as charming as ever and I would love to revisit the family for a third film. Plus, BIG ups to Sally Hawkins for filming this and The Shape of Water so closely and with such professionalism. From playing a timid mute in a Guillermo Del Toro film to portraying an eccentric and energetic adoptive mother to a polite talking bear, Hawkins proves herself (as usual) to be an incredibly versatile and reliable actress for future projects.

Watch your favorite shows on fuboTVWatch over 67 live sports and entertainment channels with a 7-day FREE trial!

But my favorites of the film would have to be one returning character and two new ones, in the form of Paddington, once again played charmingly by Ben Winshaw, Phoenix Buchanan, a talented but sleazy actor played by Hugh Grant, and Knuckles, the most intimidating prison cook you will ever know, played by Brendan Gleeson. Gleeson’s interactions with Paddington are among the film’s most notable moments, perfectly playing off each other as polar opposites stuck in the same situation. As for Grant, his BAFTA nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting role makes a lot more sense now, as he plays a crazy actor whose literal job is to chew the scenery. Grant emulates James McAvoy’s multiple personality character in Split, but gives it his own sweet charm and serves as a fantastic villain to Paddington. It’s the best he’s been in years and I’m personally vouching for him to return, should a sequel to Paddington 2 happen.

“He sees the good in all of us!”

Paddington 2
Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures via WB Press /

Paul King’s handling of such a beloved character truly deserves major props. King combines the element of fantasy with expertly camera work and wonderful direction. The world of Paddington 2 feels incredibly alive and booming, always moving a thousand miles a minute, even if we’re simply seeing a scene of dialogue between two characters indoors. King takes the work of Michael Bond and adapts it onto the big screen with delight and pleasantness, bolstered by a catchy score and creative cinematography that adds to the movie-going experience without sacrificing the most popular remnants of Paddington Brown’s personality.

SUBSCRIBE TO HULU NOW: Live + Streaming. It’s TV Come True.

Most importantly, Paddington 2 serves as a necessary escape from reality by giving its audience a proper message on kindness to stew in our brains after we leave the theater. Paddington, though naive and a little (okay, VERY) clumsy, is the embodiment of generosity that all of us need to look up to, from time to time. Throughout the film, Paddington makes friends with the most unexpected of characters and never lets societal boundaries stop him from providing joy to whomever he sees fit. Paddington is not an artificial or overwhelmingly happy bear. He’s just a bear trying to do right by himself and family and it’s that kind of pleasantness that seems to be missing in cinema. Sure, some days we crave the cynical commentary of humanity in films like Blade Runner 2049 and It Comes At Night, but other times, we need a furry ball of politeness like Paddington to display that life, with all its flaws, is a wonderful thing and we should embrace the great parts of life. Paddington surely does and he’s a prison convict!

Paddington 2
Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures via WB Press /


Paddington 2 is an utter delight, in every way. Some may claim that the film is much too cheesy to enjoy, but honestly, the cheese of the film is what makes it so rewatchable in the first place! Paddington 2 serves as a benchmark of what children’s films can do when put in the right hands. In a less handy filmmaker’s grasp, the story of Paddington Brown’s venture into a jail cell could’ve been tasteless and disrespectful to the character and lore. But Paul King transforms the typically lower-quality sequel into a sweet and well-meaning tale on the prospect of hope and kindness. Even if this doesn’t make it at the top of my Best of 2018 list (though it will certainly have a high spot on that list), it is arguably the sweetest film of the entire year and it’s not even the end of January!

Next: Interviewing the MacGregors: The brothers behind the Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero film, Best F(r)iends

Paddington 2 does, indeed, thrive with on and off-camera talent, with Ben Winshaw, Hugh Grant, Sally Hawkins and Brendan Gleeson providing the standout performances here. This isn’t the kind of kid’s film that parents should be embarrassed to take their children to. In fact, I very much welcome anybody of any age to come and enjoy this wonderful story of kindness and generosity, if it’s playing at a theater near you. Whether you have kids or not, if you want to just wear a big smile on your face for about 2 hours (there may or may not be tears streaming down your face by film’s end), than check Paddington 2 out as quickly as you can.

Prepare for a hankering of a marmalade sandwich afterwards.

Final Verdict: 9/10

Paddington 2 is playing in theaters now.