Published Date: 08/11/2017
Paddington Bear is determined to buy his Aunt Lucy an antique book for her 100th birthday present. When the book is stolen it is up to Paddington and the Browns to find the thief.
We were delighted to see a recent preview of the second instalment of the big screen adventures of Paddington and we can report that once again it’s crammed full of humour and warmth, with director Paul King crafting a triumph.
When Paddington 2 was confirmed, following the success of the original film, producer David Heyman (Harry Potter franchise, Gravity) knew that he wanted one person, and one person only, to direct. “Paul is so warm and generous and funny and uncynical” says Heyman. “You can feel that in the fabric of the first film and in this one too. He’s a really unique voice, an extraordinary and exceptional talent - so naturally we wanted him to return”
The first movie was about the importance of tolerance and acceptance, as a young immigrant bear came to London and found that, despite his obvious differences, he could blend right into a society that accepted him for who he was. While those themes also run through Paddington 2, King also wanted to examine new facets of Paddington’s character. “It’s about recognising the value of kindness and compassion,” he says. “Paddington goes from thinking he’s just a small bear in a big world to realising that his many acts of kindness are tremendously worthwhile contributions to the community.”
Exploring this idea led to introducing Paddington, and the audience, to a series of new characters in the wider community of Windsor Gardens. “It’s about seeing the good in places where others might not,” continues Heyman. “And sometimes, as in the case of Mrs. Bird and Mrs. Brown, seeing the bad where others have only been charmed. That’s a good message, in a world where we’re all a little too willing to judge a book by its cover.”
Ultimately, the story leads us and Paddington to prison, where he initially butts heads with the imposing cook, Knuckles McGinty (played wonderfully by Brendan Gleeson), before winning him over with a typical example of Paddingtonian generosity. “One of the things I did both times was watch all of Chaplin films,” explains the ever-meticulous King. “There is such a pleasure in seeing your clown in what most people would find a really miserable situation. And prison felt like a good way of giving Paddington a challenge to get back home to Windsor Gardens, and he can meet other characters and change them along the way.”
Of course Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins return with their Brown family, along with Julie Walters as their eccentric housekeeper Mrs. Bird, and of course Ben Whishaw capturing Paddington’s voice wonderfully.
The villain this time is one Phoenix Buchanan and King had only one actor in mind – Hugh Grant. “I wrote Hugh a letter saying, ‘we’ve written this part of a vain, washed up old has-been with you in mind’ and luckily he took it with great humour,” says King. “He’s such a great comic actor, with such a splendid sense of the absurdity of his profession, and it’s very pleasing to see him sending the whole thing up.”
Intrigued by the notion of playing Phoenix, whom King describes as “a rotter”, Grant signed on and threw himself into the role. “I spent a lot of the early part of my career in the 1980s doing plays with memorable theatrical types,” he explains. “I pillaged them all for this character, for the almost unendurable, overweening vanity of the man. He can’t see beyond his own beauty and talent, and that makes him do things that I’m sure he’s ashamed of.”
In a film full of highlights it would be remiss to say Hugh Grant steals the show but boy he nearly does, such is the joy of his performance! Do not miss Paddington 2 on the big screen and be sure and stay for the hilarious end credits.
Paddington 2 opens on November 10 – book your tickets here.