See it…if you are a fan of the bear or have young kids
Skip it…if family movies aren’t your thing
More enjoyable…than Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Less enjoyable…than The Greatest Showman
Has the wilder jokes but the weaker story
My love of musical movies is strong, even one as simplistic as this
I don’t know who Paddington is or where he comes from. I did see the first film in this budding franchise (soon to enter its own cinematic universe with Calvin and Hobbes, I am sure), so perhaps I should know, but that is just a property of these films. They are forgettable. Loads of fun in the moment, but ultimately, not something I will yearn for years later. And to be honest, being really memorable is a lot to ask of a family movie. There are exceptions (cough cough, The Princess Bride), but not many.
So regardless of how easily I may forget Paddington, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. For several reasons.
Firstly, the actors. The voice of Paddington is just sooo sincere and honest to the character. When Paddington is feeling betrayed, I feel betrayed. He is too likable. And the same goes for pretty much every other actor. Notably, Sally Hawkins with her emotional motherly bond, and the lovable Brendan Gleeson (truly, props to him as the best new character, it’s unfair to compete facially with an animated bear, but I would say he does and he wins). After them, the two Hughs do a great job as well (Bonneville and Grant). And all of this is crucial. This is a wild family movie about a bear trying to get his aunt a present that spins out of control. The characters need to sell everything and thankfully, they do.
The set work is also really remarkable. The whole prison sequence to some extent feels/looks like something straight from a Wes Anderson film (The Grand Budapest hotel had a very similar sequence, cough cough) and I was not complaining. Even the action sequences of the film feel very grounded in their setting.
The story is also very very good, in an obvious and simple way. All the callbacks earned by each character at the end of the film have the perfect combination of of-course that’s what would happen glibness.
To be brief, if you were interested in Paddington 2, you won’t be disappointed. If you weren’t, well, its good, but not the unforgettable life changing sort of good that I search for in movies.
I saw this as the only twenty-something-year-old in a theater of two other families, and couldn’t help but overhear those families discussing the film. And it brought me back to such a younger time when a movie trailer with a good physical joke could sell you on the movie. The scene with the soapy water bucket. “Here comes the funny part”. I mean, its good, but certainly, knowing it was coming made it far less funny, and I was guffawing much more at other intelligent jokes along the way. But oh, to be that young and naive. I didn’t know what a director did (he holds the camera, right?), and a good fart joke went a long way…