Paddington 2

At the Cinemark

(PG)

Grade: B+

Hello young writers wherever you are, I hope your troubles are few.

May I suggest in your quest to write the Great American Novel that you think small and stay simple. You might consider following the path traveled by British writer Michael Bond, who found inspiration in a stuffed animal.

“I wrote my first children’s book in 1957 and it came about largely by accident,” wrote Bond. “I was sitting at the typewriter one morning when my gaze happened to alight on a toy bear I had bought my wife for Christmas. We called him Paddington, so I typed the words: ‘Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform. In fact, that was how he came to have such an unusual name for a bear, for Paddington was the name of the station.’

“Suddenly I wanted to write more about this small character. Where had he come from? What was he doing in London?”

And write more he did, selling more than 35 million books about Paddington the Bear. Bond passed away in June at age 91, and his passing was mourned by the millions of Paddington believers young and old.

The recent film adaptations have been faithful and sweet. While the first 2014 film, “Paddington,” was slightly more cuddly than the latest version, both are quite lovely.

The weakness of the latest script is predictable for a series that includes more than two dozen separate books: after a while the author has to stretch to find a new predicament for his furry bear.

“Paddington 2” finds our bear being falsely arrested for stealing a valuable book from an antique store. Paddington is sent to prison, and has to orchestrate his own release while making marmalade jam for his new friends in striped outfits.

Although the production is exquisitely crafted and boasts a number of warm performances, the story seems just a touch contrived.

Nevertheless, spending time with Paddington is enjoyable, no matter the surroundings.

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Hugh Grant plays the villain this time, and has great fun with his role. Paddington’s adopted family consists in Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins (“Shape of Water”) and Hugh Bonneville. The ever-wonderful Julie Walters (“Educating Rita”) has a charming role as well.

The critics have been raving about “Paddington 2” driving it to a Rotten Tomatoes record of 164 consecutive “fresh” reviews, with nary a dissenting voice.

The world will miss Michael Bond, who wrote so unpretentiously and with such a warm spirit. Perhaps his first stroke of genius in the creation of Paddington was the note that was pinned to the bear’s coat: “Please look after this bear. Thank you.”

There’s something so very appealing about a lonely bear looking for a home.

It’s worth noting in 2018 that Paddington was an illegal immigrant. He was a stowaway from Peru and was taken in by the Brown family.

Bond’s death in the year of The Wall has prompted many tributes to him as a man who welcomed and embraced immigrants.

“Bond’s death is being treated not just as the death of an iconic children’s author, but as the death of a particular kind of cosmopolitan and globalist sensibility,” wrote Constance Grady in an online obituary. “He believed that when sees someone with nothing asking for help, regardless of where they might come from, the only decent and sensible thing to do is to help them.”

Amen.

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