We first meet Paddington (Ben Wishaw) eagerly anticipating his Aunt Lucy’s (Imelda Staunton) 100th birthday. Being the loving bear he is, Paddington wants to get her the absolute best gift money can buy, an antique pop up book featuring all of London’s greatest sights, but unfortunately for the poor little bear, he doesn’t quite have enough money. So, he gets a job. Or, more accurately, a number of jobs, but his plans are put on halt when a mysterious thief steals the book, causing Paddington and his beloved Brown family to embark on a daring and dangerous quest to unmask the thief and return the book.
The first film’s heavy hitters return for seconds, supported by a plethora of new additions who are all having the absolute time of the life. Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters are all just as charming as ever, each embarking on their own personal vendetta throughout, all while relating back to the central plot at hand. Their presence aids the emotion. They’re the stems holding this film together, tying it all up and giving it an extra boost towards brilliance (which it so effortlessly achieves).
Other side characters, however, don’t always feel as necessary. Peter Capaldi, for example, returns as Paddington’s grumpy neighbour Mr. Curry, but his screen time feels largely unnecessary. There’s also an attempt at giving the Brown children an arc, but again, it’s mostly inconsequential to anything. But the real saving grace of this movie is Paddington himself. The portrayal of the character has never been better. It’s as if he were ripped straight off of the pages of Michael Bond’s beloved books and let loose on the big screen to endlessly charming results. The CGI on Paddington isn’t always perfect, but the unabridged charm and kindness in his heart overcomes any and all technical flaws, as minor as they may be.
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