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Sunday Herald Life - - FILM REVIEWS - By Da­mon Smith

Padding­ton 2 (PG) The Florida Project (15)

Un­abashedly sweet, whole­some, crowd-pleas­ing se­quel: a tear-jerk­ing de­light, which pro­motes com­pas­sion and a res­o­lutely old-fash­ioned mes­sage of hope and com­mu­nity spirit, and never de­vi­ates from trum­pet­ing the cen­tral char­ac­ter’s unerring op­ti­mism in an era of para­noia and self­ish de­sires. The pan­tomime vil­lain is a schem­ing the­atri­cal ham, played to the comic hilt by Hugh Grant, who dons a wim­ple and knight’s ar­mour to steal hid­den trea­sure that should have been claimed by an an­ces­tor. Writer-di­rec­tor Sean Baker re­mains de­fi­antly on the frayed fringe of so­ci­ety for this ex­u­ber­ant por­trait of fam­i­lies liv­ing hand-to-mouth in the shadow of the fairy­tale sparkle of Walt Dis­ney World. The story un­folds over one lazy sum­mer and is an­chored by sear­ing per­for­mances from Bria Vi­naite and Brook­lynn Prince as a mother and daugh­ter who’ll do any­thing (in­clud­ing cheat and steal) to keep a roof over their heads. There are grim mo­ments yet the im­pact is soft­ened with hu­mour and hu­man­ity, ex­pos­ing chinks of vul­ner­a­bil­ity be­neath the fa­cades.

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