PG. Honest to Pete, this movie is practically animated. Okay, it's not. But can something please get the G rating? Yeah, it kinda scared my kids, but no more than an animated movie.
DIRECTOR: Paul King
I've heard the audio to this one a dozen or so times. That makes me an expert on this one, right? To follow up that bit of bravado, I have to say that this is the first time that I've watched it all of the way through. There is a truth as a parent. As much as I like some quality children's movies, if I have the opportunity to do something more productive, I'll probably take the opportunity. I know my kids are going to watch this movie again and that I'd probably get sick of it over time. I have to plan my time right. So I don't mind relegating this one to an audio observation. All of that being said, this is the first time I actually watched it and it was super fun.
I cringe at some of the reviews I have put on this page. Being a dad, I can't be reviewing the movies I would have watched a decade ago. Golly, the sheer quality / snobbery of this page would be unmatched. But usually weekends mean family movie night and Paddington fit the bill pretty nicely. We opened the garage and did this one on the big screen. My kids had already known the movie and the cousins were over so the adults seemed to be the only one who were experiencing this movie for the first time. The great part is that the movie plays on an aspect that I'm pretty critical about, but it definitely makes the movie watchable. In an era of the big screen reboot for book and television characters of yesteryear, The Brady Bunch Movie discovered that an ironic reboot tends to work better than the overly respectful return to form. Yeah, I hate what that says about us as a culture. We should be able to accept the tone of what worked before. But I love that this movie is really funny and somewhat irreverent. I like the idea of liking classic Paddington. I just know that would only appeal to children and, frankly, Paddington is a little dull. I know! This is all on me.
Paddington might be one of my favorite kids' movies. It isn't exactly the most emotionally vulnerable of films. It has touching aspects to it, to be sure, but it doesn't pull on any heavy themes. Once again, the theme of "what defines family" takes over the classic kid trope. We've seen this before; we'll see it again. But the movie oozes charm. Between the performances and the aesthetic, the movie is comforting. The sandwich in the hat is a great image for this movie. It is having a moment of innocent comfort at the ready. When my kids ask to watch a movie, I often suggest Paddington. It portrays a world that I want my kids to live in. Sure, I'm a snobby Anglophile, but this boils down what I love about England in a palatable two hours.
The cast in this almost defies expectation. My wife and I keep joking that there are only fifteen British actors. They're all in this movie. They needed a sixteenth, so they invited an Australian to jump into the sandbox. Weirdly enough, Nicole Kidman actually contributes the least considering that she's the primary antagonist. I will never slander Kidman. She is a remarkably talented actress, but considering the rest of the cast and the problem that lies with her part, she's less than engaging. None of this is her fault. This might be my one criticism with the movie. Out of necessity, this movie needed a plot. I don't care about the 101 Dalmatians external conflict. The internal conflict was enough. I'm sure a studio knew that kids needed to have some action, but the relationships were far stronger than the artificial conflict hoisted upon this tiny marmalade eating bear. Part of me wishes that this was a Wes Anderson drama targeted at adults. Okay, no I don't, but I like the idea of this existing in another universe. But who cares really? The external conflict scared my kid and it did its job. I'm preaching about the acting and I think the MVP of this movie is Hugh Bonneville. I loved him in Downton. Forget Downton. He's way better when he's making 'em laugh. Add to that Peter Capaldi and Matt Lucas and the movie hits the Whovian in me as well.
Yeah, some of these jokes pander. But those jokes made my kids howl and that's what I'm looking for as a dad. But there is some real genius in this film, most so with the joke that goes with the photo above. I quote this movie. To whom? Doesn't matter. The other person getting the reference never stopped me before. It won't stop me now. Parents, between this and The Peanuts Movie, there are two films that you can enjoy with your kids without feeling dumber. I highly recommend this one.
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Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.