Every character, big and small, glitters with flair: effervescent Sally Hawkins and high-strung Hugh Bonneville as Paddington's adoptive parents; Jim Broadbent as the curiously accented antique shop owner; Peter Capaldi as the neighborhood-watch busybody; Brendan Gleeson as the snarling prison cook with no culinary skills.
As he did in the first, co-writer/director Paul King has made a top-notch CGI animated film crammed with the sort of droll British humor that made household icons of Wallace and Gromit. The real culprit is Paddington's neighbor, the washed-up actor Phoenix Buchanan, who pilfered the book to help fund his one-man show. Thus, the arrogant thespian steals the book and manages to frame Paddington for the crime. A feature-length film needs three acts of plot and, to that end, this franchise has introduced villains to Paddington's universe. (When the sequel begins, Buchanan is best known for a terribly cheesy commercial in which he wore a full-body animal costume and extolled the virtues of canned dog food.) Early in the film, the heroic and kind bear Paddington inadvertently alerts Buchanan to his recent discovery of a pop-up book that functions both as a secret treasure map and features heavily in Buchanan's ancestry.More news: Bills fire offensive coordinator Rick Dennison
"Is it too lame to get wrapped up in the messages in a kid's film?"
It's here where the movie hits its comic stride as the perpetually sunny Paddington tries to make friends in prison, even a hulking and ill-tempered guy name Knuckles (Brenden Gleason).More news: Huawei is victim of United States 'trust deficit'
Paddington 2 won't just thrill a bright-eyed child, but is capable of warming the coldest cockles of any curmudgeon's heart. Like the first Paddington, the sequel has a Wes Anderson-style attention to detail and a keen eye for quirky visuals, thanks to King and his returning collaborators behind the camera (including, cinematographer Erik Wilson and production designer Gary Williamson). Brace yourself to drown into every furrow of Paddington's brow or feel the upward curve of your lips when the camera pans into his black nose that's irresistibility tactile. The movie is full of bright wit and honest joy, as Paddington's innate kindness permeates all around him, providing a tired world just what it needs right now. By contrast, Mr. King and his excellent team of actors and animators spin good writing and seamless digital effects into Rococo children's entertainment. The film featured an impressive cast, including Sally Hawkins as Mrs. Gleeson is a joy as Nuckles, the hard-edged career criminal whose softer and more vulnerable side is brought out at last by the ever-polite Paddington Bear. It's enough to make you think he was wasted for decades in stuttering rom-com leads when he has so much more comedic range.
Paddington 2 is sweet without being diabetic and endearing without being manipulative. Paddington never gives up on his adopted family who love him dearly and never doubts that they'll pursue justice for him.More news: Myanmar charges Reuters reporters covering Rohingya
Now playing: Opens nationwide on Friday, Jan. 12. 103 minutes. Rated PG for some action and mild rude humor. Rather than just present another simply whimsical romp for Paddington and The Browns to amble their way through, we're instead given a film that challenges its audience with a story that encourages empathy, as well as extolls the virtues of being in a community.