For some, the idea of Paul King, director of The Mighty Boosh, bringing Paddington to the silver screen was a big surprise. It could be argued that the surreal scenarios of the Boosh don’t lend themselves to the quaintness of Michael Bond’s world. However, considering Michael Bond’s world revolves around a talking bear who eats marmalade sandwiches, who’s to say what surreal is any more. Regardless, King is back with Paddington 2, co-written alongside regular collaborator Simon Farnaby, and if possible, it’s even better than the first.
Since the first film, Paddington (Ben Wishaw) has settled into his new life with the Brown family, which is shown rather marvellously in an opening scene which shows the adopted bear helping out everyone he can on his way to the shops. With his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday coming up, Paddington wants to get her an expensive, antique pop-up book. Unfortunately, narcissistic actor, Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant) also wants it. Before you know it, the book has been stolen and all fingers point to Paddington being the main culprit. Of course, we all know Phoenix is the real thief and whilst Paddington spends his days behind bars, the Brown family do everything they can to prove he’s innocent.
Like its predecessor, Paddington 2 is ridiculously heart-warming. It has no right to be this nice, and loving, and caring, and not come across as naïve. This is a film where sweet, innocent Paddington wins over a violent criminal called Nuckles (Brendan Gleeson) armed only with a marmalade sandwich. Every part of my cynical nature should be sneering till the cows come home. And yet, it is impossible not be won over by the film. Around this time of year, we’re bombarded with VOD films that tell us to be nice to our fellow neighbours and preach that if we tried a little harder, we could all be happy. Paddington 2 is the only film this year where I genuinely believe it could happen.
Perhaps it’s hope on my part, but it wouldn’t hurt the world to be 1% like it is on screen. Whilst Peter Capaldi’s immigrant-hating neighbour returns, the world of Paddington is largely untouched by Trump and Brexit. People help each other, not because they’ll get something out of it, but because it’s the right thing to do. And in turn, someone will one day help them. It’s not the worst message to be spreading at Christmas – or indeed at any time of the year – and Paddington Brown is by far the best person to relay that. Paddington for Prime Minister!