We were invited to London to watch Paddington 2, ahead of its official release on the 10th November. I really enjoyed the first film, and I was lucky enough to go to the London Premiere of it three years ago. Sequels are always a risk, and often rushed out to capitalise on the success of the first. Paddington 2 has been in production for a while now, so clearly they have been taking their time.
The premise of the story is simple, we re-join Paddington a few months after the original film. He's settled in London, and is much loved by the local community (which is a veritable 'who's who' of British acting talent). Paddington is desperate to buy a Birthday gift for Aunt Lucy, so he sets to work to pay for one. That's about as far as I can go without spoiling it. However, there's no massive spoiler in saying that Hugh Grant is the 'baddie', you sense this immediately. Hugh Bonneville is back as Hugh Bonneville, sorry, Mr Brown, and Sally Hawkins as Mrs Brown with Paddington finding his voice via Ben Whishaw again. Paul King, the director of the first film is back for the sequel too - which is clear to see.
Put simply, Paddington 2 is an utter joy to watch. The CGI bear is SO bearlievable you find youself fully 'in' to the story straight away. The whole film is utterly captivating, with beautiful photgraphy, and an enchanting score, it's hard not to be enjoy it. Paddington 2 runs for a child friendly 95 minutes, there's a lot of fun and action packed in. However, it doesn't feel at all rushed. The film is clearly designed for children, so most of the plot is gently spoon-fed. However it's not patronising in the slightest, there are layers of enjoyment for all ages. I watched J as the film played, his little face was lit up, he punched the air when Paddington was triumphant. To be fair, I was the same. It's impossible to not let the little bear make you smile.
The casting is brilliant, there's a famous face in nearly every shot. However, they aren't there to look pretty, or to add another name to the credits - there is talent at every turn. A special mention MUST go to to Tom Davies who delivers a line about 'Strawberry Pancotta' with more menace than you can imagine. It's a bit silly and far fetched at times. However, it delivers such a wonderful message to the audience. It's a beacon of light in these dark times. There are brief moments of peril, nothing too haunting for younger audiences though.
I can't express enough, Paddington 2 is the perfect family film. It's better than the first and the original was magnificent. In some ways I'm not sure if there should be a third film, I'm not convinced it could be improved further. Make sure, whatever you do, you stick around for the credits - there's a scene that should have definitely been in the film that unfolds as the credits roll. I'll say no more. If you have small children, or even if you don't I must implore you to see Paddington 2. It's an hour and a half of escapism that will make you laugh, and perhaps shed a tear (I had something in my eye, honest). I've not enjoyed a family film like this since Toy Story 3 - it's a solid 5 stars.