Earnest, entertaining family films are rare. 2014’s Paddington seemed like that unusual film, appealing to both child and adult in equal measure. Even rarer is the sequel that improves upon its predecessor, and Paddington 2 accomplishes that goal with the introduction of a more appealing villain and more of the same sweet humor. Ben Whishaw again voices Paddington with the proper politeness as the bear continues to get into silly mischief while residing with the Brown family (again headed, lovingly, by Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins). Sadly, Paddington is unjustly jailed for a crime committed by neighbor and former actor, Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant, who is a much more proper British villain than Nicole Kidman). Naturally, Paddington, who is capable of making friends of anyone, befriends the entire prison population after turning the angry prison chef (Brendan Gleeson) on to marmalade sandwiches. Writer-director Paul King builds on a Paddington universe that is consistently, simply humorous but also has a childish taste of Brit-com edginess and Wes Anderson twee-ness. Every children’s film cannot be as genuine as Paddington 2, so enjoy the curiosity.
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