As someone who never read the stories of Paddington Bear as a child, or even saw the 2014 film, I’m perhaps not the target audience for Paddington 2. But a miserable November week encouraged me to try both films as a tonic against the gloomy winter. They were the perfect choice.
Paddington 2 sees our friendly bear looking to buy a present for his Aunt Lucy back in Peru. He takes on a series of odd jobs to save up for the perfect antique pop-up book. But it’s suddenly stolen – and Paddington gets the blame. He and the Brown family must find the real culprit to clear his good name.
The world of Paddington 2 is full of irresistible tricks and treats to spark a child’s imagination: a book that’s also a treasure map, a hot-air balloon made out of tablecloths, pipes used for secret communications, a single red sock that dyes the uniforms of an entire prison pastel pink.
Like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Home Alone (also films aimed at the young but with a lasting adult appeal beyond simple nostalgia), it delights in MacGyvering, boobie traps, extended scenes of note-perfect physical comedy, and the fundamentally optimistic belief that a spirited kid (or bear) can stand up to tyranny. There are wonderful little jokes hidden amid the slapstick: a perfectly delivered take on the word “baguette”, and every line that leaves a delightfully camp Hugh Grant’s mouth.
It’s as if A Series of Unfortunate Events, Love, Actually and Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox have been melted together to create an aesthetically pleasing film about a talking animal taking on a greedy, villainous actor wearing a variety of costumes – before returning home to his £3 million townhouse in Notting Hill just as the snow begins to fall. Oh, and with a closing musical number, of course.
This article appears in the 22 Nov 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Europe: the new disorder