Trailer for the unaware:
If you’re put off by the trailer, I feel ya. It doesn’t do it justice, I assure you.
I’ve deviated from my Best Picture watching and did something I haven’t done in far too long: I went and saw a kid’s movie. I hadn’t even seen the trailer beforehand. I had no clue it was a “beloved children’s book.” I didn’t know a damn thing about Paddington other than it’s 98% on Rottentomatoes with 114 positive reviews and only 2 negative with a consensus, “Paddington brings a beloved children’s character into the 21st century without sacrificing his essential charm, delivering a family-friendly adventure as irresistibly cuddly as its star.” A movie with that kind of critical weight behind it, no matter what genre, is catching my attention. Even so, let’s do a quick musing on “kid’s movies.”
I don’t care what anyone says, some of the greatest films in the history of film-making are so-called “kids movies.” Take your pick of Pixar’s best. Take your pick of DreamWorks’ best. Take your pick of Disney’s best. I’d put those alongside any classic film or modern classic. That it’s primary target is children in no way diminishes its value. I feel this is a necessary primer because people scoff at kids movies, as if they have nothing to offer. Those aforementioned animation studios (even though this is CGI and live-action) say otherwise, as does this film, Paddington.
Let’s hone in a particular word in that ‘Tomatoes consensus that best encapsulates this film: charm. Gah, even just Googling images to use in this post and seeing Paddington made me gush again. He’s absolutely charming and yes, a lot of that has to do with the cuteness of the imagery itself (it’s beautiful CGI), but also that damn English charm. I’m smitten by it. Always have been. Ben Whishaw, voicing Paddington, provides that charm and that approachable quality. As Rebecca Mead says in The New Yorker:
The movie offers a gently satirical portrait of a particular English upper-middle-class sensibility: liberal, but sometimes effortfully so; emotionally restrained, but not lacking in feeling, for all that restraint.
She talks about how the film has such an English sensibility to it and it absolutely does. It’s what makes it so damn charming and “irresistibly cuddly.” It was also funny and at some parts, sad and moving. It’s a familiar story but presented in a warm and lovely fashion.
I’d highly recommend it. It would be great for your kids, too.