There is such kindness here, and such humanity, though that seems too small a word for the small, furry ursine who has such a positive effect on everyone merely by expecting the best from them. Returning writer-director Paul King achieves this stunning sweetness and charm while avoiding (once more) all the syrupy sanctimony that unfortunately drags down so many movies deemed suitable for kids. This time, the young bear—in vivid, authentic CGI, voiced by Ben Whishaw again—is framed for a heinous theft, and his adopted human mother (Sally Hawkins) leads the investigation to clear his name; washed-up actor Phoenix Buchanan (a hilarious Hugh Grant), a fellow denizen of storybook London street Windsor Gardens, is a prime suspect. Meanwhile, Paddington is spreading marmalade-fueled exuberance behind bars, though grumpy prison chef Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson) is proving a challenge. Adventure! Intrigue! Daring escapes and rescues! A treasure hunt! A train chase! Afternoon tea! This is a fantasy of unique scope and astonishing emotional depth beneath the silliness. There isn’t single moment here that isn’t an absolutely enrapturing bear hug of snuggly, heartwarming delight.
Director: Paul King
Producer: David Heyman, Bob Weinstein, David Glasser, Ron Halpern, Didier Lupfer, Alexandra Ferguson Derbyshire, Rosie Alison and Jeffrey Clifford
Cast: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Brendan Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Samuel Joslin, Madeleine Harris, Peter Capaldi, Tom Conti, Joanna Lumley, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Eileen Atkins and Noah Taylor