Film: ‘Paddington 2’
Director: Paul King
Starring: Hugh Grant, Hugh Bonnerville, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson
“Paddington” in 2014 was so treacly it was like eating too much Christmas pudding. The most unwanted sequel comes to us with noblest of intentions and feeblest of contrivances. It has little else to recommend itself, except Hugh Grant in a whammy of a performance that belongs to film far weightier than this eyecandy-floss.
Grant plays Phoenix Buchanan a wicked has-been of an actor whose villainy drives the anorexic plot forward through the neat unexciting residential streets of London as our bear-hero the adorable Paddington waddles through a mess that, I suspect, is created entirely by the script writers who were told to slap together a hurried sequel filled with ersatz twists and unconvincing turns which would get the “Paddington” fans back into their seats.
As far as sequels go, this one doesn’t get anywhere that we would particularly like to go.It is like visiting Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel on a day when the rides are open only to the righteous. It opens on a note of sanctimonious adoration with a bear-couple adopting an awashed baby bear. The CGs are not so unbearable. There is so much more to ‘bear’ here.
The plot quickly moves to London to Paddington’s adoptive British family that spreads so much fuzzy warmth around our cute little hero making him the apex of British propriety and marmalade-laid decorum. Some of Paddington’s teaparty etiquettes are plainly annoying. Elsewhere, as in the sequels, where poor little Paddington is imprisoned,the attempts to remain propah and genteel in a rough environment may evoke some stray titters. Though I doubt anyone will remain amused for too long with the strained attempts to alchemize animation tropes into a full fledged feature films.
Even by the low standards set by the cult of sequels “Paddington 2” fares poorly. Veteran British actors like Jim Broadbent(playing an antique dealer) and Brendan Gleeson(as a snarling prison cook) liven up the proceedings. But it is Hugh Grant who will raise your amusement quotient and perk your curiosity level with his huffing and heaving portrayal of an actor on the skids.
Oh yes, you will see two actors of Indian origin. Sanjeev Bhaskar is a face glimpsed at a window on a London street while Meera Sayal makes a fleeting appearing in a courtroom scene. Aren’t we grateful.
Don’t raise your hopes too high. As our baby bear’s cuddly antics will make you roll your eyes and mutter under your breath. The plot’s focus of conflict is a pop-up animation book stolen by the arch-villain and coveted by our cuddlesome hero as a birthday gift to his beloved aunt who teaches “Paddington” to look for goodness in everyone.I looked for that quality in this film and found way too much of it.
If the truth be told, the pop-up book pops up more vividly than anything that this lackluster sequel has to offer.I know it has made potloads of money across the global box-office. But if success was a measure of excellence then Dhanush’s Kolaveri D would be a classic song. And Dwayne Johnson would be a better actor than Marlon Brando.
Or Hugh Grant, for that matter.