By Angie Raphael
I was not as blown away with the original Paddington film as everyone else seemed to be, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this sequel. Paddington (Ben Whishaw) is happily living with the Brown family and has become a beloved member of the local community. He wants to buy his Aunt Lucy a present for her 100th birthday, but the antique pop-up book he is saving money to buy is mysteriously stolen and Paddington is framed for the crime. Part of the enjoyment of this sequel is seeing Hugh Grant poke fun at himself while playing the hilarious villain. The cast also reads like a who's who of UK actors, including returning stars Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins, and welcome additions such as Brendan Gleeson. The film is perhaps about 10 minutes too long but the children I saw Paddington 2 with remained completely hooked. Director/co-writer Paul King has used Michael Bond's character to deliver a family film that is so sweet and charming. Paddington 2 hits all the right marks, including silly humour and important lessons for children about kindness and empathy. Importantly, the film also leaves the viewer feeling hopeful.