When everyday throws up a new soul-crushing scandal and brings us one megalomaniac’s tweet closer to the brink of nuclear war, films like Paddington 2 are needed. A bold claim for what many will casually dismiss as a “children’s film”, but ignore this fire-smouldering hug of a follow-up to 2014’s surprisingly brilliant first instalment at your considerable loss.
This time, everyone’s favourite marmalade-addicted Peruvian immigrant is wrongfully locked up, accused of stealing a vintage pop-up book of London which he’d been saving up for, wishing to send it to his Aunt Lucy for her 100th birthday. His adoptive family must fight to prove the bear’s innocence. Meanwhile, villainous West End luvvie Phoenix Buchanan (knowingly played by Hugh Grant, who is clearly loving every minute of his post-Florence Foster Jenkins career rejuvenation), uses the stolen book to locate clues to a hidden treasure in order to fund his cravat-wearing theatrical endeavours.
Returning director and co-writer Paul King once again merges Chaplinesque slapstick with Wes Anderson-calibrated whimsy in a fittingly heartfelt tribute to Paddington creator Michael Bond, who died earlier this year. The whole thing feels like the end of year treat you so badly needed, one which firmly goes against the typical whitewashed comedies Richard Curtis has made a fortune from and instead revels in a wisely understated anti-Brexit tone. If the first film was a parable about the failings of xenophobia, this sequel positions itself as the timely champion of multiculturalism; and while all this might seem a tad far-fetched for a film about a duffle coat-wearing bear, good luck trying to pretend – even for a fleeting moment – that the world doesn’t feel less wearisome when you walk out of the screening. More of this please.
Paddington 2 | Directed by Paul King (UK 2017) with Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson. Starts November 23
Check our OV search engine for showtimes.