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Paddington 2, review: ‘Incredibly, overwhelmingly nice; nice in a way you thought no longer existed’

PUBLISHED: 11:28 06 November 2017 | UPDATED: 11:28 06 November 2017

Paddington 2

Paddington 2

Archant

The sequel stars Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, Hugh Grant, Julie Walters and Ben Whishaw

There is a reason why Paddington 2 – the remarkably fine sequel to the unexpectedly splendid original – is getting, and deserving, the best reviews for any recent children’s film not made by Pixar: it’s because it’s jolly nice.

Just incredibly, overwhelmingly nice; nice in a way you probably thought no longer existed. It’s nice, but not at the expense of wit and invention.

The boldness of the first one was the way it updated Michael Bond’s beloved creation, without updating him at all. He was still immaculately polite and well mannered, and that wasn’t mocked or sent up at all. So given that innocence and decency were his main appeal, it was a brave move to make a sequel where he ends up in prison. (He’s been framed for a theft committed by dastardly thespian Hugh Grant.)

This sounds like a terrible idea but returning director Paul King, sharing script duties with Simon Farnaby, has a spoonful of sugar to make any medicine go down. It has silly bits, Aah bits, clever sight gag bits, slightly-over-the-kids’-heads bits and all these bits tie up together just beautifully.

Like all good kids’ stories, Paddington 2 tells them a bunch of lies about the world, and what very fine lies they are too. Paddington believes there is good in everyone, and in this film that good is always remarkably close to the surface, even among the prison population.

It is like the Guardian newspaper as a children’s story: everything is inclusive and reasonable and fair and set in a tourist attraction London which is safe and clean and even still has functioning red telephone boxes. Even a skilled curmudgeon like myself was enchanted by it.

There’s a point in the film when I realised that it was preparing to wrap things up, that we were already into its final act, and I felt a real tug of disappointment: please don’t end so soon, don’t make me go back out to the real world again. I’d forgotten how nice, nice is.

Visit halfmanhalfcritic.com for reviews of boxset George A Romero: Between Night and Dawn and 80s nuclear annihilation drama Miracle Mile.

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