The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Paddington 2

If you like to feel good, go see Paddington 2. If you've been stressed or frustrated lately, go see Paddington 2. If you have children, go see Paddington 2. If not, see it anyway. Look, I can't say this any more clearly just go see Paddington 2! The original Paddington was a charming, funny family film. This sequel is even better. It's a delightful story about the value of treating people with kindness. We need more of this sort of thing in the world right now.

The story finds Paddington (voiced by Ben Wishaw) happily living in London with the Brown family. He wants to buy a special present for his aunt on her 100th birthday, and decides on an antique pop-up book depicting some of the city's sites. As he works a series of odd jobs to save up money, a washed-up and slightly deranged actor, Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant), steals the book from the store and frames Paddington for the crime. The lovable, mishap-prone bear is then sent to jail, where he begins working for cantankerous prison cook Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson). Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. Brown (Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins) try to figure out how to help him clear his name. That task involves stopping Phoenix from figuring out a hidden code inside the book, one that may lead to treasure.

The humor in Paddington 2 is great, whether you're a kid or an adult. The visual effects used to create the titular bear are sometimes quite hilarious all by themselves. One scene, for instance, finds Paddington working in a barbershop. When he turns on the electric clippers, his whole body shakes. The mere visual of that is a riot, but it's also just the start of a magnificent sequence in which a series of increasingly catastrophic events conspire to create a big problem for our furry hero. Other inventive bits include an equally accident-ridden window-washing gig, a prison break that features an homage to Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times, and a climactic train chase that's equal parts humorous and thrilling.

The visual comedy and script cleverness are matched by Hugh Grant's astonishing performance. Few movies have used him as well as Paddington 2 does. Phoenix is a truly unhinged guy, left bitter and half-crazed by the decline of his once-thriving career. Grant holds nothing back, clearly relishing the opportunity to go big and broad in a villainous role. He's sensational, as is Brendan Gleeson as Knuckles. The actor plays the character with utter menace, which makes Paddington's attempts to soften the cook up even more giggle-inducing.

As funny as Paddington 2 is and it's really funny the movie's big heart is perhaps its finest quality. Through sheer optimism and a commitment to treating everyone kindly, Paddington is able to create positive change in the world around him. Even in prison! The movie's message is that being nice to others is simple and effective. No matter what obstacles are put in his path, the bear responds with consistency. That pays off in the final moments, which may just put a small lump in your throat.

Of course, parents appreciate any movie they can enjoy as much as their kids do. Paddington 2 is all that and more. Regardless of your age or whether you have children, it is a heart-warming, feel-great picture that puts a smile on your face for 103 minutes and sends you out of the theater on a cloud. In a word, wonderful.

( out of four)

Paddington 2 is rated PG for some action and mild rude humor. The running time is 1 hour and 43 minutes.

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