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Review: Like a good marmalade sandwich Paddington 2 is nice and unabashedly sweet

PUBLISHED: 14:37 15 November 2017 | UPDATED: 14:37 15 November 2017

Paddington Bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) in sequel Paddington 2. Photo: StudioCanal/Jay Maidment

Paddington Bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) in sequel Paddington 2. Photo: StudioCanal/Jay Maidment

StudioCanal/Jay Maidment

Paul King's wholesome and crowd-pleasing sequel, which replicates the irresistible charm of the 2014 film that introduced the duffel-coat clad hero to the big screen, is nice, but not at the expense of wit and invention.

Hugh Bonneville as Henry Brown, Samuel Joslin as Jonathan Brown, Madeleine Harris as Judy Brown and Sally Hawkins as Mary Brown in Paddington 2. Photo: StudioCanal/Jay MaidmentHugh Bonneville as Henry Brown, Samuel Joslin as Jonathan Brown, Madeleine Harris as Judy Brown and Sally Hawkins as Mary Brown in Paddington 2. Photo: StudioCanal/Jay Maidment

Paddington 2 (PG)

****

There is a reason why Paddington 2 – the remarkably fine sequel to the unexpectedly splendid original – is getting, and deserving, the best reviews for any recent children’s film not made by Pixar: it’s because it’s jolly nice.

Just incredibly, overwhelmingly nice; nice in a way you probably thought no longer existed. It’s nice, but not at the expense of wit and invention.

Hugh Grant as Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2. Photo: StudioCanal/Jaap BuitendijkHugh Grant as Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2. Photo: StudioCanal/Jaap Buitendijk

The boldness of the first one was the way it updated Michael Bond’s beloved creation, without updating him at all. He was still immaculately polite and well mannered, and that wasn’t mocked or sent up at all.

So given that innocence and decency were his main appeal, it was a brave move to make a sequel where he ends up in prison.

This sounds like a terrible idea but returning director Paul King, sharing script duties with Simon Farnaby, has a spoonful of sugar to make any medicine go down.

Paddington (again voiced by Ben Whishaw) is happily installed in the attic of 32 Windsor Gardens, family home of fuddy-duddy insurance assessor Henry Brown (Hugh Bonneville), his free-spirited wife Mary (Sally Hawkins) and their children, Judy (Madeleine Harris) and Jonathan (Samuel Joslin).

Paddington Bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) in Paddington 2. Photo: StudioCanal/Jay MaidmentPaddington Bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) in Paddington 2. Photo: StudioCanal/Jay Maidment

During a visit to antiques dealer Mr Gruber (Jim Broadbent), Paddington unearths an old “popping book” of London, which would make the perfect present for Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton).

Alas, the rare one-of-a-kind tome is expensive. Hilariously vain, fading actor Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant) steals the rare edition and Paddington is wrongly sentenced to 10 years for “grand theft and grievous barberly harm.”

Like all good kids’ stories, Paddington 2 tells them a bunch of lies about the world, and what very fine lies they are too. Paddington believes there is good in everyone, and in this film that good is always remarkably close to the surface, even among the prison population.

It has silly bits, Aah bits, clever sight gag bits, slightly-over-the-kids’-heads bits and all these bits tie up together just beautifully.

Even a skilled curmudgeon like myself was enchanted by it, which is a great testiment to the love and pride King has put into it.

There’s a point in the film when I realised that it was preparing to wrap things up, that we were already into its final act, and I felt a real tug of disappointment: please don’t end so soon, don’t make me go back out to the real world again.

I’d forgotten how nice, nice is.

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