I don’t know the type of person you have to be to actively dislike the Paddington movies. The films, of which we now have two, are some of the most charming, sweet, and enjoyable family movies of the decade, and probably century. They’re so effective that adults might get more out of them than children, which is such a rarity in so-called “family” movies. Most often, that moniker is given to any movie appropriate for children and frequently means films exclusively targeted toward them.
Paddington 2 once again follows Paddington (voice of Ben Whishaw), a talking bear who lives with the Brown family in London. He works various odd jobs and is currently trying to save up enough money to buy a pop-up book of the city, which he hopes to send to his Aunt Lucy for her 100th birthday. Bears don’t often live to 100, we’re told. It’s a big deal. But before he’s able to purchase it, it’s stolen. Conveniently, Paddington was in the vicinity of the crime and tries to stop the thief, but he’s caught instead and, despite not having the book on his person, is convicted of the crime and sentenced to do hard time. His family decides to dedicate all of their time to trying to track down the real criminal.
So, yes, a lot of Paddington 2 is a prison movie—but for kids! The series is really good at making seemingly scary things tame, largely because Paddington is such a polite bear that it’s impossible for anyone to do him any real harm. The tough prisoners? You can figure out pretty quickly what’s going to happen with them.
It eventually becomes more of an adventure movie. We know the real thief before any of the characters—because there can’t be any doubt that Paddington did do it, after all—but watching them try to figure it out is fun enough. Them actively trying to stop him is also enjoyable. The film has a jovial energy that keeps it light and entertaining. It’s hard not to watch it with a smile on your face. It’s also very sweet and heartwarming. If you don’t feel something by the end of it, I don’t know what to tell you.
Paddington 2 is a very solid sequel to the very solid original film.
The humor works, both for kids and adults. It’s not one of those movies that has a ton of adult references that the children won’t get—and therefore it’s super clever when the adults do—but it just has a lot of jokes and gags that are effectively set up and will likely make anyone laugh more often than not. And because they’re happening to, or being told by, characters we like quite a lot, they’re just a little bit more effective because of that.
If it does have an aspect in which it feels a little slight, it’s in its supporting characters—particularly the Brown family. That isn’t a problem, per se, because we got enough from them in the first movie, but they’re here for the plot and nothing else; we don’t really get much new from them or see their characters develop. Only Henry (Hugh Bonneville), the husband/father of the house, gets anything resembling a concrete arc. And I was more interested in Paddington’s shenanigans in the prison than his mid-life crisis. I suspect most everyone else will be, too.
A lack of development is a problem for most of the characters, and that includes Paddington, too. He’s just perpetually optimistic and polite. Prison might change some people, but it doesn’t change this bear. There isn’t any self-reflection, either. But this is a talking bear in a movie mostly made for kids, and the ride’s so fun that it is, honestly, difficult to take to much notice. You enjoy yourself to the point that minor flaws don’t wind up mattering.
Paddington 2 is a very solid sequel to the very solid original film. It’s a lot of fun, it moves very quickly, it’s got a lot of laughs, and it fills you with energy and joy. It’s a sweet and happy movie that will delight both children and adults. It’s so difficult to dislike and, much like its predecessor, may have a few minor problems—a lack of development being the main one—but they don’t detract from the overall experience. Paddington 2 is a really good movie, and if you enjoyed the first one, you need to watch the sequel, too.
Conclusion: Paddington 2 is a very fun ride for both kids and adults.
Recommendation: You like adventure and family fun? Watch Paddington 2.