“It truly does feel that Paddington was made with a vision in mind instead of just as a cash-grab of an old character that a studio had in their back pocket.”
After hearing all of the hype that the sequel has been producing, last night I finally watched Paddington and I found it absolutely delightful. Paddington is a film that came out in 2014 and is an attempt to bring the much-beloved children’s character into the modern day. When his home is destroyed by an earthquake, a young bear (who later earns the name Paddington) travels to London in an attempt to find a family. Wanting to help this bear, the Brown family take him in until a more suitable home is found.
So really the main takeaway from Paddington is just how charming it is from start to finish. Paddington is of course a children’s movie, but the way that everything is presented makes it a blast for adults as well. First of all the comedy in Paddington is phenomenal. There are a few moments of ‘dumb jokes’ that make you kind of roll your eyes, but they also make you laugh. And apart from those there are a lot of brilliantly crafted moments of comedy that made me double-over in laughter. Paddington manages to strike that comedy sweet spot where the jokes are family friendly, but still masterfully written.
Moving onto a more serious note, past all of the jokes Paddington also offers some commentary on very heartfelt issues. Paddington tackles issues of homesickness, racism, being yourself, and the struggles of being a bear in modern day Europe. These messages are presented in a way that carry a lot of weight, but they don’t shove themselves down your throat. At most they allow for moments where adults can go “wow, that’s really mature”, and kids can hopefully learn a thing or two.
Adding to the film’s charm was a lot of the directing choices, which were very involved in my opinion. By this I mean the camera in Paddington was always moving, trying its best to get the most interesting shot possible. There are loads of dutch angles, fish-eye lenses, and other quirks that make Paddington stand out among other children-oriented films of the time. It truly does feel that Paddington was made with a vision in mind instead of just as a cash-grab of an old character that a studio had in their back pocket.
Now of course Paddington is a movie that features a talking bear, and as it turns out all of the talking bears in Hollywood were booked at the time of Paddington’s filming so they had to opt for CGI. This is where the film gets a little shaky for me. CGI is generally good or bad, but in Paddington it’s hard for me to draw that line becasue it is straddled almost throughout. There are moments where I was amazed at how detailed Paddington looked in certain scenes, but even at his best he never really fit into the world that was around him.
And speaking of not fitting in, let’s discuss some of the musical choices in Paddington. Now most of Paddington was populated by wonderful songs that perfectly encapsulated the tone that the rest of the movie was putting fourth with amazing jazz-inspired instrumentals and wonderful vocals; the rest of the music was not good. Despite me praising it before, Paddington still shows remnants of other kids movies wherein the jokes are fast and dumb and only there to annoy everyone. The jokes I’m referencing here would be the use of certain popular songs as punchlines. For instance when a character sees another character and falls in love with them instantly, a sweeping instrumental that is in-line with the rest of the movie won’t suffice. No, you need to play Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’ becasue that’s what every other movie does. When there is a scene that features a character on a motorcycle being “cool” you can’t have anything else but ‘Born to be Wild’ blaring in the background. These “jokes” are tired and clichéd, and honestly I thought Paddington was above them. And while on the subject of music I just have to mention the fucking terrible credits song that features a generic pop beat with airhorns appearing in the background throughout. It was a fucking mess. Luckily these moments, while they did make me angry, were few and far between and the rest of the movie was good enough to forgive these sins.
Overall watching Paddington was a very pleasant experience. Despite its flaws I found the movie to be very charming, and even more enjoyable than I had hoped. Now I can’t wait to see the sequel.
I give Paddington an A