Paddington 2 (2017)

Directed by Paul King; Written by Paul King, David Farnaby

In which a small bear redeems mankind. 

It’s tough to be kind out here. The world can get tough with you, and when patience with everything and everyone wears thin, loss of grace, compassion and kindness is not far behind. I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d see a small peacoat-wearing bear show us the way, and I never thought Paddington 2 could be the humanitarian tonic that it is. 

A story centered on Paddington’s love for those close to him, it begins with him saving up to buy an antique pop-up book for his Aunt Lucy, a gift to the bear who made him who he is, and the author of Paddington’s mantra: “If you are kind and polite, the world will be right.” However, the book is stolen and Paddington framed for the crime, and as his adoptive family the Browns work to clear his name, Paddington is thrown in prison with the ruff-and-tuff of English society. 

Over the next 100 minutes, Paddington 2 will delight, thrill, and move you, but its overwhelming power lies not in these theatrical elements, however well done they may be, and believe me, they are, but in its effortless insistence on the power kindness can have and its powers of community-building. When people speak of religion’s power to tie a community together, I assume this is what they mean. Is Paddington Jesus Christ? I’m not saying he is. But is he doing the job of the saviour mankind was promised? Yes. 

Paddington 2 is an eye-popping beauty of a film, with every scene ornate and dazzling and it’s easy to look past characters in the foreground to study the often immaculate backdrop. While bright and light on its feet, Paddington 2 is far from insubstantial, and therein also lies the marvel of it. The filmic equivalent of Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got A Friend In Me”, it’s an easy-listener telling you of a person who wants the best for you and asks nothing but your happiness, yet it never becomes overbearing, self-satisfied or preachy in its message. Kindness can be and is its own reward. 

A bear-shaped joy with the power to dispel the gloom of any down-turned day, the film presents to us a place where people are recognized for their character, and kindness is never taken for granted – an evergreen message for grown-ups and children alike. Who wouldn’t want to live in a world like that?

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