Susan Granger’s review of “Paddington 2” (Warner Bros.)
Set a few years after Paddington sprang onto the silver screen, the red-hatted, blue-raincoated, marmalade-scarfing bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) has settled into a new life in London’s Windsor Gardens with his adoptive parents, the Browns (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins).
Since his beloved Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton), an Anglophile who still lives in Darkest Peru, is celebrating her 100th birthday, Paddington has decided to send her an expensive book of famous London landmarks, described as a “popping book” by Mr. Gruber (Jim Broadbent), the antiques dealer.
But before Paddington can earn enough money, the rare book is stolen by prissy Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant), an aging actor who has been reduced to doing dog food commercials.
What dastardly devious Phoenix knows that Paddington doesn’t is that the seemingly innocuous pop-up book is really a secret treasure map, so he frames Paddington for the theft.
Dispatched to prison, Paddington finds himself living with intimidating inmates like the snarling chef, Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson) – or “Nuckel’s” as it’s misspelled on his tattooed fists – whom Paddington wins over with – what else? – marmalade!
Meanwhile, the émigré bear’s friends and family (Julie Walters, Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin) work diligently for his release, much to the dismay of Mr. Curry (Peter Capaldi), the neighborhood’s odious Britain-firster.
Continuing his witty live-action adaptation of Michael Bond’s series of whimsical children’s books, writer/director Paul King, teaming with co-writer Simon Farnaby, carry on the elaborately endearing slapstick silliness, replete with imaginative interludes and inventive, colorful sets.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Paddington 2” is an adorable, thoroughly enjoyable 8, reinforcing the sublime belief: “If you’re kind and polite, the world will be right.”