‘Padding­ton 2’ bears up charm­ingly

View­ers of all ages will ap­pre­ci­ate its mes­sage and its artistry.

Star Tribune - - MOVIES - By COLIN COVERT colin.covert@star­tri­bune.com Colin Covert • 612-673-7186 @col­in­covert

Given the rocky paths of many se­quels, it’s a spe­cial joy that “Padding­ton 2” is sweet as marmalade.

Those who al­ready know about Padding­ton, the plucky lit­tle Peru­vian bear who moved to Lon­don with flaw­less Bri­tish man­ners al­ready in place, here’s a de­li­cious sec­ond help­ing. Those who are new to the saga from Michael Bond’s good-na­tured chil­dren’s books, pre­pare for a treat. Many chil­dren’s films are cloy­ingly sen­ti­men­tal and sad­dled with group-writ­ten scripts that buzz around aim­lessly like light­ning bugs in a jar. This is con­sis­tently good char­ac­ter-hu­mor plus solid slap­stick plus lit­tle dabs of drama to let your lungs re­cover from laugh­ing, an ac­ces­si­ble and en­gag­ing fam­ily romp.

As he did in the first, co-writer/director Paul King has made a top-notch CGI an­i­mated film crammed with the sort of droll Bri­tish hu­mor that made house­hold icons of Wal­lace and Gromit. Padding­ton, whim­si­cally voiced by Ben Whishaw, is now prac­ti­cally fam­ily with his guardians, the Browns (Sally Hawkins and Hugh Bon­neville as the artis­tic mom and square dad, Madeleine Har­ris and Sa­muel Ben Whishaw is the voice of the ti­tle bear in “Padding­ton 2.”

Joslin as their in­quis­i­tive jour­nal­ist daugh­ter and rail­road en­gi­neer­ing prodigy son), who ap­pear live-ac­tion. He sees the best in ev­ery­one he en­coun­ters in their pleas­ant neigh­bor­hood and draws happy smiles from most. His motto, “If we’re kind and po­lite, the world will be right,” is the film’s en­tirely sin­cere moral.

There’s al­ways a but. Here, as in the pre­vi­ous film, there is a Bri­tish star aching to do a manic turn as the an­tag­o­nist. Last time, Ni­cole Kidman was ex­cel­lent as a das­tardly taxi­der­mist who wanted to trans­form Padding­ton into a mu­seum ex­hibit. Now there’s Hugh Grant, play­ing

a faded stage star who aims to bankroll his come­back through the theft of a rare, old pop-up book of Lon­don land­marks, which he knows con­tains se­cret clues to a hid­den trea­sure. That’s ex­actly the book that in­no­cent Padding­ton wanted to send to his aunt in South Amer­ica. For rea­sons in­volv­ing a very bad hair­cut, the judge hear­ing the case sends the bear to prison for 10 years while the de­vi­ous bur­glar walks free.

Grant does a breath­tak­ing more-is­more per­for­mance here, cre­at­ing an abysmal ham with haughty vi­sions of grandios­ity us­ing his “act­ing” skills to don elab­o­rate dis­guises. Over the course of the film,

Padding­ton 2

½ out of four stars

Rat­ing: PG for some ac­tion and mild rude hu­mor.

he presents him­self as a home­less man, a knight in ar­mor, a nun and more. He also ap­pears, with ab­ject em­bar­rass­ment, in a dog food com­mer­cial as a la-di-da pooch.

Grant is no longer the young looker that he was, but he has grown into quite a knock­out as a co­me­dian. Also find­ing ribs to tickle and sides to split are Bren­dan Glee­son as Padding­ton’s hard-boiled prison cook, and Hawkins swim­ming through a sub­ma­rine res­cue that looks too close to her work in “The Shape of Wa­ter” to be mere co­in­ci­dence.

One ad­vi­sory. As I said ear­lier, novices should pre­pare for view­ing “Padding­ton 2.” If you haven’t seen “Padding­ton” in its 2015 the­atri­cal re­lease or re­cent life on­line (it’s cur­rently a fea­tured ti­tle on Net­flix), you’re not ready for the sec­ond chap­ter. For new­com­ers, this cas­cade of self-ref­er­en­tial in-jokes and call­backs to col­or­ful side char­ac­ters will wan­der the land of the lost. Get­ting ready for the new film will be one of the most charm­ing study as­sign­ments of your life.

slowly climbed to No. 1 at the box of­fice and earned 75 per­cent pos­i­tive crit­i­cal rat­ings to boot.

WHO’S UP Haters said we didn’t need a “Jumanji” up­date, yet “Wel­come to the Jun­gle”

the odd­ball James Franco por­trayed in his Golden Globes-win­ning per­for­mance in “The Dis­as­ter Artist,” got the stif­farm from Franco on the Globes stage.

Warner Bros.

Tommy Wiseau,

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