After that quick origin story bit that opens the trailer (with an adorable cub version of Paddington somehow eating a marmalade sandwich as he’s being pulled from a river), we get a look at the be-hatted bear’s pleasant life in London. He’s excited about buying his Aunt Lucy a special gift: a one-of-a-kind pop-up book of the city. Trouble is, the villainous Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant) wants the book for himself, and he ends up stealing it and framing Paddington for the crime. But since Paddington Goes to Jail sounds more like the title of an Ernest movie (look those up, millennials) and might not draw in the family audience these films aim for, we’ll have to make do with Paddington 2.
In addition to the pleasant talking bear that’s voiced by Ben Whishaw, this sequel contains an equally delightful human cast that includes Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson, Peter Capaldi, Richard Ayoade, Julie Walters, and more.
This trailer has all the humor and charm audiences have come to expect from Paddington while still having a fun new story to tell. Seeing the baby Paddington 2 in Peru at the beginning of the trailer was cool and showed us a bit of the marmalade-loving bear’s origins. We also get to see the crime that serves as the central conflict of the film. Paddington wants to purchase a pop-up book of London for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, only for the book to be stolen and it looks like the adventure-prone bear will be blamed for it. Apparently this pop-up book gives the crown jewels a run for their money and Paddington is imprisoned for the crime in what appears to a symmetry-filled and pastel-colored prison straight out of a Wes Anderson film. The prison escape elements look like a ton of fun and the newcomers to the cast look to be having the same amount of fun.
In addition to the returning cast, we see Brendan Gleeson’s Knuckles McGinty as a marvelously named fellow inmate at the prison. Paddington, as always, sees the best in people, including his fellow inmates, and inevitably wins the hardened prisoners to his side. Although Hugh Grant’s character may have no good for Paddington to see. Hugh Grant plays Phoenix Buchanan in the film and he’s the most mustache-twirling villain sans mustache I’ve seen in some time. All in all this just really looks like a fun, heartwarming movie that you can enjoy with the whole family, that has something for everyone. (And doesn’t insult anyone’s intelligence.)
While domestic audiences have to wait until next month, the bear in the coat and hat has already been entertaining families overseas for a while now. The film has already racked up $95 million worldwide, and has been especially successful in the United Kingdom where the character was first introduced in 1958. The first film went on to gross $268 million worldwide and this sequel has already garnered fantastic, universal praise from critics. Warner Bros. acquired domestic distribution rights to Paddington 2 from The Weinstein Company after the Harvey Weinstein allegations came to light. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, Warner Bros. looks to have a promising family film in theaters to kick off the new year.
Paddington 2 hits North American theaters on January 12, 2018. For all of the most charming, superheroic, explosion-filled and scoundrel-y films releasing in the coming year, check out our release schedule.
It’s safe to say that when we conjure a picture of Hugh Grant in our minds, we see someone on the order of Mr. Nice Guy. We think of the pleasant, appealing roles he’s played in “Four Weddings and a Funeral, “Notting Hill,” and “It’s a Boy.” Sure, he’s done some less-than-nice characters in, for instance “Cloud Atlas,” but in general, we know what we’re going to get from a Grant performance. So, it’s a bit odd to find him playing what, in British slang, you’d call a “rotter” in “Paddington 2.” He’s Phoenix Buchanan, a former big-name actor who’s still got his looks and his good name. But success is evading him these days, and having been reduced to dressing up in a dog suit to do TV ads, or occasionally being hired to open a county fair, his once likeable qualities are now overshadowed by narcissism and dreams of returning to his glory days. He also shows a villainous side. Grant has a ball playing the part, and though he means it when he says he’s proud of the film, it was equally odd when he sat down in Los Angeles last week to talk about it and put on a kind of snarky persona. A couple of his responses to questions were thoughtful, others were funny, and quite a few were just plain weird.
Q: We don’t often get to see you go so far over the top in comedy as you do in this film.
A: (Interrupting) “Nine Months” wasn’t?Q: Not like this one. So, was this more fun or more of a challenge to do than a usual role?
A: I didn’t realize I was going over the top, actually. (pauses a beat) Yes, it was fun. I have almost bottomless reservoirs of what Phoenix has: Self-regard, paranoia, loathing. All those things. And it was lovely to just wade around in them like that. If I ever actually tried to be a little subtle, or tried to find a psychological motivation for something I said or did, (director) Paul King soon pooh-poohed that. He wasn’t interested in those things. Just cheap laughs.Q: You play many characters in different disguises in this movie, and you’ve played so many different kinds of roles over the years. Do you have a favorite one?
A: It’s very nice of you to say I’ve played lots of roles, when we all know that I’ve really only played one. (laughs). But no, I’ve not enjoyed any of them. I hate my job.Q: But is there a character you’ve always wanted to play? A: No. I’m always hoping that the phone will not ring.