So you all weren’t lying when you said Paddington 2 is a perfect film

‘I don’t do nothin’ for no one for nothin.’

Kindness is underrated.

Love is underrated.

Generosity is underrated.

And Paddington 2, despite having been showered with praise from the very moment it came out and holding a longstanding 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, is underrated too.

Bad things can happen to good people. Paddington has been aware of this through his entire journey in the streets of London, but never has it been clearer than now. In only the first thirty minutes of Paul King’s sequel to the 2014 sleeper hit, Paddington works hard to buy his aunt a gift, only for the gift to be stolen. Not only that, but he is wrongfully accused and convicted of said robbery. That’s right: the beloved polite bear will spend most of the runtime in the ruthless world of prison.

And guess what ? It is absolutely wonderful.

Paddington has many reasons to give up in his journey. So do the Browns, who are hellbent on finding out the truth about the case and bringing their new family member back home. And yet, they never do. The faith that Paddington has in a world that doesn’t help him much is consistently heartwarming. It feels strange as an adult to feel like you’ve learned something from a CGI cub,

Whereas the first film liked to play things safely, Paddington 2 fully assumes its whimsical side, leading to moments of visual wonder and uplifting hilarity. Sometimes London is a pencil sketch, sometimes a pop-up book. The world that Paddington navigates isn’t real, but it will make anyone want to look through his eyes.

Paddington’s mistakes are what make the best parts of the film possible: a simple laundry mistake turns every single prison uniform into a lovely pale pink that doesn’t exactly please his inmates (but does allow for some very pleasing visual. When he is met with hostility, he always responds with kindness. He believes in everyone, no matter how unfriendly people can be. He changes the world, one person at a time. Even the most hardened prisoners warm up to Paddington’s influence.

Of course, some people aren’t as deserving of this unconditional kindness. Nicole Kidman was a fine enough villain in the first installment, but Hugh Grant’s Phoenix Buchanan outdoes her at every step. He is ridiculous and an overall incredibly effective comedic performance, but his most villainous traits aren’t that far-fetched. Buchanan is driven by greed over anything else, by the memory of a past glory he can’t seem to find again. He may be evil and a little bit too intent on killing an innocent bear, but his worries are all but unrelatable. He used to be someone, and can’t cope with only being a shadow of what he used to be.

The film doesn’t judge him for being a washed-up actor; it judges him for being a dangerous one. And indeed, no hard judgement is pushed onto any of the characters, even the grumpier ones. Only those that actively seek to do harm will be fought against. Even then, they are not considered unredeemable, as proven in a delightful mid-credits scene that should will make anyone who dared to turn off the film before very regretful.

Paddington 2 balances its lessons with its actions, its heartwarming moments with its comedic beats. It doesn’t hide from the fact that the world can be deeply unfair, but it shows that with the right outlook, we can make the best out of what it gives us. Kids and adults can all learn from Paddington. Everyone can benefit from being just a little bit nicer.

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