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Paddington 2


Stars: Ben Whishaw (voice), Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Hugh Grant, Brendan Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Tom Conti, Peter Capaldi, Ben Miller, Eileen Atkins, Joanna Lumley, Imelda Staunton (voice)

Director: Paul King

Two bad things happen to Paddington Bear in this sequel: he goes to prison and he has his thunder thoroughly stolen by a rampantly outrageous Hugh Grant. The two are not unconnected. Paddington is unjustly convicted of the theft of a rare pop-up book, which he's saving the pennies earned cleaning windows to buy. But the real thief is failed thespian Phoenix Buchanan (Grant).

Desperate to get his paws (sorry, hands) on the book, which contains clues to hidden treasure, Buchanan employs a number of disguises to achieve his aim, including a nun and a knight in armour. When Buchanan vanishes, Paddington is bear-on-the-spot and sentenced to 10 years' hard labour.

Hard labour is soon softened when Paddington wins over fearsome chef Knuckles (Gleeson) with the help of a facility for making marmalade sandwiches. Fearing the Browns have deserted him, however, our ursine hero joins Knuckles' plans for a break-out...

Whishaw makes Paddington a little too wimpy this time round for our total sympathy, and no one else gets much of a look in, although Hawkins is delightfully scatty as Mrs Brown; this certainly has been her year. Broadbent, though, offers another of his dreadful accents as the antiques dealer who owns the book.

Lacking in the domestic incident that made the first film such a hoot, the fun relies more on facets of its routine plot to keep us amused, in which department Grant's camp villain is invaluable: stay for the credits to watch his pretty-in-pink version of a jailhouse rock at the end. And a journey through London sights in a pop-up book is particularly inventive.

David Quinlan

UK 2017. UK Distributor: Studio Canal . Technicolor.
103 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 23 Dec 2017