Hit Sandwich

They’ll talk all the way through it, they’ll ramp up the cinema bill and the sophisticated humour will be lost on them, so leave the kids at home and instead treat your other half to the deliriously brilliant Paddington sequel. My argument below. 

***

Paddington 2
Cert: G

SO OFTEN with cinema for younger viewers, an emphasis is placed on slapstick and mayhem in order to hold the restless eye of youth.

The odd time, however, something comes along that has been lovingly, meticulously crafted to mine the very essence of childishness, your Toy Stories and Finding Nemos and what have you. Do that, and no demographic is immune.

This was precisely what Paddington pulled off in 2014 when it took Michael Bond’s childhood staple and spruced it up for a new era. It did huge box office business through sheer quality alone. Incredibly, this sequel is even better again and marks director Paul King and his co-writer Simon Farnaby (Mindhorn) as a formidable partnership.

Still in leafy London bliss with the Brown family, Paddington spots a mysterious book in an antique shop. He decides this will make an ideal gift for Aunt Lucy and duly bungles his way through odd jobs to save up for it, only to be framed for the item’s robbery. The culprit? Hugh Grant’s superbly narcissistic thespian who wants a treasure map hidden inside the book. Behind bars, Paddington is met with rough inmates and Brendan Gleeson’s grizzled cook. Genius ensues.

The CGI bear (voiced by Ben Wishaw) is almost a side-act next to the cast’s dexterous mugging – Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins (as Mr and Mrs Brown), Grant (a very good sport about sending himself up), Gleeson etc. Bellylaughs come thick and fast but there is enough magic and heart here to grant it Christmas-classic status.

In fact, between its athletic wit and overflowing invention, Paddington 2 is arguably too good for kids. Maybe consider booking a babysitter for this one.

5/5

First published in the Sunday Independent

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Blow Par

It’s breaking records at the moment for opening-weekend business in Ireland. Like everything about the man known for “breaking necks and cashing cheques”, I find this baffling. All this doc is is an alter for his fandom to worship at, and ultimately contributes little to our knowledge or understanding of this divisive global figure. A missed opportunity. 

***

Conor Mcgregor: Notorious
Cert: 15A

THIS nation of ours can be neatly divided not only along party-political lines or brands of tea but also on Conor McGregor.

To his fans, the Dubliner is a sharp-witted Adonis and lofty athlete who rose from working-class origins to global fame through determination and discipline.

To his detractors, meanwhile, he is little more than a boorish, homophobic thug whose only obsession other than himself is lining his pockets in a brutally violent exhibition unworthy of being called a sport.

Gavin Fitzgerald’s slick film is unconcerned with giving McGregor and MMA a rigorous examination. Completed in intimate proximity to the UFC star (who also produces), this is a hagiographic, access-all-areas portrait designed to trumpet the man-myth and secure a Christmas bonanza of DVD sales by his devotees. If you’re looking for new insight, look elsewhere.

They will relish seeing their hero lounging in Las Vegas wealth-porn and filling his marble hallway with cackle after self-congratulatory cackle as the Diaz title bout looms. Boringly, the rags-to-riches-to-rematch narrative is structured precisely as you’d expect.

Strictly for McGregorites.

2/5

First published in the Sunday Independent