Take a Drink: whenever someone says “Marmalade.”
Do a Shot: every time Paddington fucks something up.
Take a Drink: for every awesome British cameo.
Do a Shot: whenever the calypso band shows up.
By: Hawk Ripjaw (A Toast) –
No one understands, nor will they ever understand, the love that I have for cartoon bears. Winnie the Pooh is my boy. Ernest & Celestine is a fucking masterpiece. Tim the Bear is awesome. So even when seeing those horrible trailers for Paddington (and if there is any justice, the person responsible for those trailers has been stuffed himself), I still held out hope that it would be all right.
Well, Paddington wasn’t just all right.
It was absolutely fucking wonderful.
So we open with an explorer making his way through Darkest Peru, when he sees a very unique bear. The explorer prepares to bust a cap in said bear’s ass, before the bear appears out of nowhere to pluck a scorpion from the explorer’s chest to save his life, at which point he accepts the bears as friends, teaches them of the ways of the humans, and promises them that they will be welcome should they ever travel to England. Many years later, the bears are older and house a nephew who will come to be named Paddington (Ben Whishaw).
Life is good in Darkest Peru, with Paddington and his aunt and uncle enjoying the easy life making marmalade and doing bear shit, until a massive earthquake hits the area, destroying their awesome house and killing Paddington’s uncle. With nothing left for him, Paddington goes to England, where he is immediately struck by how everyone is an asshole. Everyone, that is, except for the Brown family. Mr. Brown (Hugh Bonneville) and daughter Judy are not enthused, but Mrs. Brown (Sally Hawkins) and son Jonathan couldn’t be more delighted to house a talking bear for the night. It takes roughly 5 minutes for Paddington to cause unholy amounts of damage to the house and make Mr. Brown all the more enthusiastic to get Paddington out. Mrs. Brown vows to help Paddington follow the mysteriously dark trail on the way to locating the explorer that first connected with his aunt and uncle.
Meanwhile, a taxidermist with the totally not evil name Millicent (Nicole Kidman) plots to capture Paddington, slice him open, remove his insides and stuff him for display in the Natural History Museum. She can try, but she probably won’t succeed–not if FAMILY has anything to say about it!
Damn you, warm fuzzies. You got old Hawk Ripjaw again. Emotion for me is like a fine tequila—I can’t stand it. And yet, this little movie warmed this cold-ass heart right to the core. It’s a mostly fairly rudimentary family film “families stick together” message, which has been done since those old Jesus sitcoms, but something about the way it’s delivered here really hits home.
Paddington is a marvelous CGI creation that accomplishes what few are able to do: feel like an organic piece of the world. In honestly, there wasn’t a single point in the film where I looked at Paddington and saw a product of a computer program. The bear really is part of the world.
Paul King’s (The Mighty Boosh) direction is airtight and breathtaking. Paddington is a strong counterpoint to the “it’s a kid’s movie, cut it some slack” argument that other shitty family films use, because here we have a kid’s movie shot like something much more interesting and high-quality, like they used to make them. Paddington’s whimsical cinematography, which features delightful little flourishes such as a central role of a wall mural of a tree, and the ingenious use of a “Lost and Found” sign in an early scene, is engaging to look at. The action sequences are well-staged and creative. Rather than deliver a serviceably bright film for the kids, King has crafted a remarkably eye-catching picture that evokes quirky indie sensibilities right at home in Wes Anderson’s stable. It goes hand-in-hand with sumptuous production design and some extremely cool sets.
And yeah, it’s a little simplistic and predictable, but pleasantly so in a breezy, kid-friendly way. And yet, there are still some surprisingly funny adult-style jokes that have a bit more sophistication than Shrek.
Family. Whatever. My family stresses me out whenever I go to visit them. The idea of marriage and children is not something that sounds remotely attractive to me. And yet, I got all emotional the second Mr. Brown pointed out his wonderful wife and children in the finale and his love for the bear. Paddington hits hard with its message of not only family, but of acceptance of those that are different than us. And maybe I can someday come to accept people that didn’t like White House Down, because here, the reminder that even those folks are still worth something definitely resonated.
It’s a deeply charming, delightful family movie that gives you a nice, warm feeling in your stomach.