(Originally Posted February 11th, 2015.)
This movie is:
and perhaps most of all: incredibly British.
When this movie was first announced last year, I was dubious about its quality. The trailer consisted of just an extended scene of prat-falls and vaguely gross-out humor. Additionally, it was strictly a kids film, and it was based on an old book series.
In terms of red flags, those might just be the pinnacles. Sure Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs turned out to be a classic, but that was a really out-there concept, and was entirely animated.
This, however, was a live action movie about a talking bear.
I was expecting nothing but continuous gags and childish humor. And sure, it did have that. It has several extended sequences of that.
But you know what?
I didn’t mind, not even a little bit. I was already like the Browns by that point. I loved Paddington, and no matter what mischief he got himself into, I couldn’t stay mad at him. I’m not an only child, and Paddington just felt like another sibling; a bear sibling, but family all the same.
I used the word charming before to describe this movie, and it bears repeating (Yes, I really did just make that joke. I’m not even sorry). This movie will melt a cynical heart into a puddle on the floor with its sheer levels of heart-warming loveliness. It just has too many good things in it.
The aesthetic flair is goddamn inspired. The mood and tone of the film actually effects the background of scenes. A painted tree on the wall blooms and withers as the story progresses. There is a scene where a dollhouse is used to show the entire house at once, and the only film I have ever seen use a similar trick is The Grand Budapest Hotel.
And let me make one thing perfectly clear: I adore The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Then, there are the parallels. Paddington is not only a great story on its own, but it’s also a subtle reference to immigration. Paddington (the character) serves as a stand-in for people who came into Britain as an escape (I would go more into the topic, but I don’t feel I know the historical parallels enough to talk about it with any level of authority, and I don’t wish to inadvertently disrespect or offend anyone.) That angle becomes incredibly clear when the villain says the line: “But it’s always just one to begin with…” referring to a bear staying in the neighborhood.
I love children stories that do that: put something underneath the surface. That’s the difference between a dumb “kid’s movie” and a genuine classic like Toys Story. Adding a bunch of pop culture reference and sexual innuendos does not make a movie enjoyable to adults, being a good movie makes it enjoyable to adults. A story that has clever characters, visual flare, wit, and charm. Paddington has all of that, and more, and as long as kids movies like The Lego Movie, The Muppets, and Paddington keep getting made, then I will continue to see them. I will go out of my way to support them, and I suggest you do the same.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a guest over for the night, and I promised him I would make him a sandwich. He’s quite fond of them you see, and I just can’t say “no” to that face.