Paddington 2, B
Rated PG, 103 minutes
The sweet, entertaining live-action sequel "Paddington 2" is a sweet and predictable outing for the good-natured, British bear we've come to love. It's a nice family film that pulls few surprises but is more pleasant than an orange marmalade sandwich.
Settled in with the Brown family (Hugh Bonneville and "The Shape of Water's" Sally Hawkins), Paddington (voiced by "Spectre's" Ben Whishaw) the bear is a popular member of the community who spreads joy and marmalade wherever he goes. One fine day, he spots a pop-up book in an antique shop -- the perfect present for his beloved aunt's 100th birthday. When a thief and also actor (Hugh Grant) steals the prized book, Paddington embarks on an epic quest to unmask the culprit before Aunt Lucy's big celebration.
"Paddington 2" is silly, charming fun for the whole family, featuring a stellar, all-star cast of noted British actors who seem to be having fun, and after all, it's hard not to like sweet Paddington, who always wants the best for others. Based on the immensely popular "Paddington Bear" children's books by Michael Bond, it's also a sequel to the first live-action "Paddington" in 2014, which was also a big hit at the movie box-office. It's directed by Paul King, who directed the first film, is co-written by King and Simon Farnaby and energetically scored by "Darkest Hour's" Dario Marianelli, which helps keep the film moving.
This time out, Paddington is at odds with a bad actor (or should I say, an actor who's bad), played with glee by Grant, as they both want a valuable pop-up book: Paddington wants it for his aged aunt's 100 birthday, while Grant wants it to get his hands on a fortune. Paddington is sent to prison, accused of stealing the book, though really, we know that won't last long. While there, he meets a grumpy cook (Brendan Gleeson, having fun) who becomes pals with Paddington after helping him make some of his tasty orange marmalade.
"Paddington 2" is good for a few laughs and smiles, and young kids especially won't be disappointed by it. Adults will notice "The Shape of Water's'" Hawkins, Bonneville, Grant, Gleeson along with many other noted British stage and film actors, including Julie Walters, Tom Conti (he's the judge in one of the film's ongoing running gags), "Doctor's Who's" Peter Capaldi, Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent, as well as the voices of Imelda Staunton (Aunt Lucy) and Michael Gambon (Uncle Pastuzo).
"Paddington 2" tends to predictably dawdle a little with some over-the-top silliness, taking too much time to get to its touching finale, but once it gets there your heart will certainly be tugged. It isn't the most revelatory type of filmmaking and hardly anything new, but darn it you will still leave loving that sweet Paddington bear. Good fun for the entire family.