Paddington is a lovable Peruvian bear with a small ego and big heart. But he’s also short on money, and with his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday just around the corner, he needs some cash for a gift – and fast.
So, Paddington does what any intelligent, talking bear in his situation would do: He works a few odds jobs with the goal of buying a one-of-a-kind, London-themed popup book from the local antique shop. It seems that Aunt Lucy – who lives far, far away — had always wanted to visit the historic city.
“If she saw this, it would be like she were finally here,” he says.
He cleans windows. He washes pets. He even cuts hair at a salon.
But then the unthinkable happens. With his financial goal within reach, someone steals the popup book in the dead of night. Even worse: Police believe Paddington did it, and he is sentenced to 10 years in prison for grand theft.
Will the real thief ever be caught? And can Paddington’s contagious charm melt the hearts of London’s worst criminals, as it did his British family, the Browns?
It’s all part of Paddington 2 (PG), which opens this weekend and shows Paddington facing real-world challenges he didn’t see in the first film (2015). It stars Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington; Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) as Henry Brown; Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) as Mary Brown; and Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and a Funeral) as Phoenix Buchanan, a man who has little regard for Paddington.
The character is based on a series of children’s book by author Michael Bond, who died last year at the age of 91.
Here’s what parents should know:
1. It’s clean family fun. Like its predecessor, Paddington 2 is a fun movie that delivers innocent humor and positive characters rarely seen on the big screen. I laughed – a lot. It’s close to being the perfect family-friendly movie. There’s only one coarse word (an OMG), little sexuality (we hear a double entendre comment about “nice buns”) and virtually no violence (a trapeze artist dies, and we see her bloodless body but we don’t witness the fall). One character threatens other characters with a sword.
2. It’s hilarious. It’s not easy finding films with appropriate humor for children, but Paddington 2 has plenty of it. Who wouldn’t enjoy watching our beloved bear give someone a bad haircut – and then try and fix it with marmalade? Also, moviegoers shouldn’t miss the humor in the most unlikely of places – like the random newspaper headlines.
3. It’s refreshing. There’s a big difference between Paddington 2 and other modern-day children’s flicks. The former is filled with kindness and optimism; the latter with crude jokes and name-calling. Take The Boss Baby, for example. It was the 17th highest grossing film of 2017, and its plot spotlighted two brothers who despise one another. Sure, they make up at the end, but by then we’ve walked through so much box office baggage that no one cares.
4. It has a worldview worth discussing. We live in a cynical society, where sarcasm dominates, selfishness reigns, and everyone is striving to get the last word. Perhaps that’s why Paddington (2015) and Paddington 2 are so refreshing. The hero is a lovable little bear who was taught at an early age, “If we’re kind and polite, the world will be right.” Sure, he’s clumsy and crazy, but he’s also considerate and caring. Paddington 2 certainly is not a faith-based film, but it nevertheless gives us a character who exhibits more fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) than do most other big-screen protagonists. He’s always looking “for the good in people,” and he’s a character we want our children to emulate.
Of course, we know that the heart of man is wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). We also know that only the Gospel – and not kindness – can save the world. But I’m guessing that if more Christians exhibited Paddington’s kindness – a quality that Scripture commands (Ephesians 4:32) – there would be more people in the pews.
5. It’s all about the British. For Americans like me who are fascinated with London and its rich history, Paddington 2 offers a little icing on the cake. We get to enjoy the scenic streets and the famous landmarks. There’s even a scene in St. Paul’s Cathedral!
Entertainment rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.