Happiness is an option: Fantastic 'Paddington 2' is brimming with optimism

(Left side top-bottom) VIRGILE ELANA as Charley Rumble, AARON NEIL as Spoon, ROBERT STEVENSON as Jimmy the Snitch, GEOFF BANKS as Squeaky Pete and DEEPAK ANAND as Mad Dog; (Center top-bottom) BRENDAN GLEESON as Knuckles McGinty and Paddington voiced by BEN WHISHAW; (Right side top-bottom) EMERSON NWOLIE as Double Bass Bob, JAMIE DEMETRIOU as The Professor, TOM DAVIS as T-Bone, NOAH TAYLOR as Phibs, STEPHEN MCDADE as Jonny Cashpoint, NICHOLAS LUMLEY as Farmer Jack and CAL McCRYSTAL as Sir Geoffrey Wilcott in the family adventure "PADDINGTON 2," from Warner Bros. Pictures and STUDIOCANAL, in association with Anton Capital Entertainment S.C.A., a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo: Warner Bros.)

Paddington 2
4 out of 5 Stars
Paul King
Writers: Paul King (screenplay), Simon Farnaby (screenplay), Michael Bond (created by)
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Hugh Grant
Genre: Comedy, Adventure
Rated: PG for some action and mild rude humor

Synopsis: Paddington, having found a home in London with the Brown family, looks to send a one-of-a-kind pop-up book to his Aunt Lucy for her 100th birthday.

Review: I was a big fan of 2015’s “Paddington,” a delightful film about a talkative Peruvian bear who finds himself in London and in need of a home. I know that I often harp on about how I enjoy films that teach me something, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a bit of frivolous fantasy from time to time. Particularly when that frivolity comes in the shape of a fun, smart and blissfully optimistic movie like “Paddington.”

“Paddington 2” is every bit as good as the original film. In fact, it might be a little better. The central story is that Aunt Lucy, the kindhearted bear who rescued and raised Paddington, is about to turn 100 years old. Paddington wants to get her the perfect gift, but the antique pop-up book of London that he desperately wants to get her is rare and incredibly expensive.

I’ll keep the spoilers to a minimum and just say that Paddington, by nature of being Paddington, manages to land himself in jail. Behind bars, Paddington, still being Paddington, melts the hearts of the hardened criminals that surround him and adds a splash of color to the surroundings as well. Which might as well be a metaphor for why the film exists in the first place. Paddington is our Greek chorus. Paddington doesn’t want an argument. He wants a hug.

With Paddington in prison, the Browns, his adoptive family, looks to find proof that Paddington isn’t guilty of what he is accused of. This gives allows us some quality time with actors Sally Hawkins and Hugh Bonneville and allows Hugh Grant to chew the scenery as he plays Phoenix Bachanan, a fading actor desperate for a career revival. In a vacuum, the performances might feel overblown, but in the world that this film takes place, they’re pitch perfect. As is the storybook ending.

I left the theater with a tear and a smile.

If you are looking for an escape, remedy for the post-holiday blues or a family-friendly film that is actually a fantastic movie, then I highly recommend “Paddington 2.”

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