Paddington 2

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It may be difficult to find a review of director and co-writer Paul King’s followup to his first take on Michael Bond’s émigré bear from darkest Peru that does not employ some form of the word “charming.” This is right and just, and the achievement is surely harder than the devoted cast makes it look. (How tempting it must be to slum in a kids’ movie, thinking that the little blighters either don’t care or don’t know the difference. But there’s none of that here.) But there’s something else as well, something more: a sweet but solid decency underlying the charm the way good bread underlies marmalade. It’s Paddington’s great gift from his Aunt Lucy: personal integrity, good manners, and the grace to persist in faith, hope, and love when all signs indicate otherwise. And it’s his desire to make some return for what he’s been given that drives the story here, as he sets out to acquire a rare and expensive pop-up book of London so that his aunt may finally see the city of her dreams. But someone else is interested in the book, and for less altruistic reasons: Hugh Grant, magnificent (and magnificently attired) as a washed-up actor seeking funding for a comeback show and conversing with the great roles of his past as he carries out his dastardly plan. He very nearly steals the show as well, but he’s thwarted there by Brendan Gleeson’s grumpy prison cook. A gentle, genuine delight all ‘round. (2018) — Matthew Lickona

Rated PG | 1 hour, 43 minutes
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