This is a child-friendly guide; some of the discussion questions are for younger viewers. Paddington 2 is rated PG for mild threat.
Paddington (voice of Ben Wishaw) is now living happily with the Brown family, and has friends all over the neighbourhood. But though he’s settled into London life, he’s still thinking of Aunt Lucy (voice of Imelda Staunton), who he left behind in Peru. He wants to send her a very special birthday present, and he thinks he’s found the perfect gift – a beautiful pop-up book showing famous landmarks of London.
But while Paddington is trying to save enough money to buy the book, it catches the attention of egotistical faded actor Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant). He knows that there’s more to the book than meets the eye, and hatches a devious plan to steal it and frame Paddington for the theft.
With their beloved bear wrongly imprisoned, it’s up to Mrs Brown (Sally Hawkins), Mr Brown (Hugh Bonneville) and the rest of Paddington’s friends to clear his name.
They’ve done it again. The team behind 2014’s Paddington have returned with a sequel that’s every bit as innocent, charming, funny and touching as the first instalment. The film’s blend of air-light whimsy and real feeling may look effortless, but in truth it’s a work of finely-tuned skill.
The plot here is largely beside the point: it’s a delivery system for a series of slapstick set-pieces and flights of fancy. The best of these is a sequence in which Paddington’s indefatigable good nature transforms Portobello Prison into a cosy home-from-home where there are macaroons for tea and nightly bedtime stories. It’s silly, of course, and it’s hardly social realism – but it’s also a genuine expression of the power that beauty and kindness can have, even in the darkest places. I defy any grown-up not to have a tear in their eye.
The pleasures here are many – from spotting a who’s who of British comedy talent in every small role; to Hugh Grant’s self-spoofing turn; to every opportunity afforded for envying the Brown’s impossibly gorgeous home and Sally Hawkins’ boho-chic wardrobe. Paddington 2 is another future family classic.
- Did you enjoy the film, and why or why not? Which bits were your favourites?
- Which parts of the film made you laugh? Was there anything that you found sad or scary?
- What did you think of Paddington himself? How does he try to help other people and see the best in everybody? How does he make people’s lives better?
- Why does Phoenix Buchanan want to steal the book? Why do you think he wants to be the star of his own one-man show?
- How do Paddington’s family use their talents and abilities to help him out? What special talents do you have which could help other people?
- How did you feel when Nuckles and the other criminals went back to help Paddington at the end? How can we look for the good in people around us, even when they don’t seem very nice on the surface?
‘Paddington wouldn’t hesitate if any of us needed help! He looks for the good in all of us.’ – Henry Brown
- How does Paddington 2 stack up against the original film? If you’ve read Michael Bond’s books, how do you think the recent screen adaptations compare?
- What do you think of the film’s production design? What kind of world do the filmmakers create, and why is it appealing?
- Which of the film’s main performances was your favourite, and why? Which minor character or cameo did you enjoy most?
- How would you describe the tone of Paddington 2? How, and how effectively, do the filmmakers balance humour and whimsy with genuine warmth and sadness?
- What does Paddington 2 have to say about the idea of ‘neighbourliness’ and living in community? Would you call it a political film, and why or why not?
- How did you respond to the film’s vision of a world where kindness and marmalade sandwiches can melt the heart of a hardened prisoner? How realistic do you think it is to have faith in people’s intrinsic goodness?
- Can a film like Paddington 2, released during a year filled with global turmoil and bad news stories, offer more than escapism to its audience? What hope might this story offer us for our own, far-from-storybook world?