News flash folks, Paddington was fucking delightful.
I’ve been harping on about this for some time, so it probably serves to give a token amount of backstory. I remember seeing the trailer for Paddington years ago. I thought nothing much of it. I’d watched the show as a kid. I remembered it being enjoyable enough, but that was about it. He had a hat? Liked marmalade? I think he wore Wellington boots? I had no idea of his personality or the artifice that made Paddington anything more than generic kid’s tv. So when I watched the trailer I thought I guess they’re desperately fishing for the dollars of those parents who loved it as kids. The concept of “it’s not for me and that’s fine” came to mind. I remembered something about delays in bringing it to the screen, but that was the last of it. I ignored the franchise and went on with my life.
Then came Paddington 2. It arrived not with a whimper, but with a roar. Upon hearing of it I was all set to immediately dismiss it. So I did. Then the critical reception came and it was mind-blowing. 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, B+ or A reviews from actual legitimate film sources (remember kids, Rotten Tomatoes is an aggregate rating of whether or not a film is terrible. 100% on RT could mean that everyone rated it 6/10). What was going on? How had this harmless but insubstantial film become the darling of the cinematic reviewer society?
I immediately assumed something was afoot. Lady Bird I understood getting a 100% rating. Paddington 2, a sequel no less? It was some kind of joke. A bizarre hoax. This was some Berenstein Bears sort of shit. I already knew we were in some insane parallel universe after the one two punch of Brexit and Trump. The rise and rise of Paddington 2, however, was the icing on a peanut butter and rubber cake. What in sweet fucks was going on? There was no way it was that great. I didn’t have any desire to watch the film, but I’m also incurably curious. So I told myself I’d see it, but when the time came I couldn’t pull that trigger. It was never right. I was never bored enough or in the right mood.
Then I fractured my wrist and had time.
My girlfriend and I had just watched Annihilation. We needed a palette cleanser after the outstanding film shat itself in the last third. I’d been jokingly trying to get my girlfriend on the Paddington train (no pun intended, honestly) for a while and I think she flat out didn’t care enough to dissent. She resolved that if it was shit she could sleep or play on her phone. Within the first minute, we were both hooked. The setting was fun and vibrant. The world they’d explored with these technologically competent bears was goofy and neat. By the time the action got to London, we were already in love with the little guy. The cast was fantastically well rounded, featuring Julie Walters, Sally Hawkins, Nicole Kidman and Peter Capaldi. The Brown family members were all intriguing in their own fashion and Kidman was a gloriously ruthless villain.
The plot made sense and it was a riot getting there. With one of the central tenets being Paddington as some walking disaster, they set up a myriad of Rube Goldberg style scenarios for him to create havoc. The movie was heartfelt without being saccharine. It was genuinely enjoyable to watch without so much as a sagging scene. Some gorgeous large scale set pieces to see, aided by helpful (and not gratuitous) CGI.
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m legitimately excited to watch Paddington 2.