Paddington Bear has a strong connection with children across the world, created by Michael Bond, Paddington first appeared in the children's book “A Bear Called Paddington” and since then there have been over 150 publications of Paddington overcoming everyday problems in his own special way. Michael Bond kept writing the Paddington stories right up until the year he died spanning an amazing 59 years and selling over 35 million copies all over the world. Generations have read the books, watched the televisions shows and owned their own lost little bear toy – giving a home to this little bear with a kind heart and strong morals.
The magic of the original stories is that it is mostly about acceptance of others, Paddington is not just a migrant but also a different species but overcomes this by being overwhelmingly kind, generous and thoroughly polite – all in all a most charming individual who is hard not to like, even if he is a bear.
Now it was always going to be difficult to bring a such a loved character to the screen and meet the expectations of the millions of people who have been shaped by the original books. But the first Paddington Movie released in 2014 really managed to bring this special little bear to life and stay true to the original concept; packed with a great cast, a script full of laugh out loud moments and polished off with the most amazing CGI that allows you to look straight into this little Bears innocent eyes capturing every tiny emotion to perfection. The movie grossed nearly 300 million dollars worldwide, received wide critical acclaim and was nominated for numerous awards. Ben Wishaw provides the voice of Paddington and to say the choice of casting Wishaw as the charming little bear from Peru is nothing short of genius is no overstatement, he really does a fantastic job and it is hard to see anyone else doing a better job of bringing Paddington to life in the way that he does. Other key cast members are Hugh Bonneville (Mr Brown), Sally Hawkins (Mrs Brown), Julie Walters (Mrs Bird), Michael Gambon (Uncle Pastuzo), Imelda Staunton (Aunt Lucy) and Jim Broadbent (Mr Gruber). It is clear to the audience that all of the cast members are having a great time working with the screenplay from Paul King and it is an absolute pleasure to watch each of the cast members deliver each of their many punch lines that weave the film together.
Personally, I missed the original Paddington movie when it was released in the cinemas and that is a big disappointment. As a lifelong fan of the little Bear, I felt that I would be disappointed by a new adaptation and felt it easier to avoid it than have my memories ruined. How wrong was I! When a family member sat me down to watch Paddington we spent the whole movie laughing out loud, crying with laughter and at times crying with sadness. So when Paddington 2 was released I was booking my ticket to see the movie in the cinema on the very first weekend it was released and again had some worries about whether they could pull off another movie anything like the brilliance of the first. Now let's be honest here there are very few sequels that really manages to capture the same experience for the viewer as the original film and but Paddington 2 was a most wonderful surprise.
The original was funny but Paddington 2 is more akin to the slapstick humour of Charlie Chaplin. It is constant from start to finish bringing laughs throughout, but do not be fooled by this madcap fun as there is a dark side to both films, without spoiling it there are scenes in Paddington 2 that are unbelievably tense and will bring a tear to even the hardest of souls. This is a more polished version of the original with a tighter script and some amazing additions to the cast also, Brendan Gleeson is a real stand out playing a terrifying prison cook who builds a strong friendship with Paddington in a very unexpected way. Hugh Grant is also amazing, playing a parody of himself just make sure you keep watching right through the final credits of the film to see Grant in one of the best scenes you will ever see him in (very brave). The original film manages to stick to the underlying theme of acceptance but Paddington 2 rubs this in your face and in a period of Brexit where society seems to be pushing away people this theme is quite poignant, to say the least – we all have a lot to learn from Paddington, young and old.
Over the years there have been many films that give a simple need for the audience, bombarding us with effects with little soul or feeling. Now if you are feeling a little ground down by this and want to watch a story that will flick every single emotion and leave you crying with laughter then Paddington 2 is a real must. If like me you had overlooked the Paddington movies for one reason or another but are looking for a movie for all the family that will give to everyone in so many ways then get onto Amazon now and watch it while it is included in your subscription. Paddington 2 is just a wonderful experience.