I recently read my fellow blogger friend Chloe’s review on it and decided to finally watch a film that I’ve quite honestly forgot about for a very long time. Well I’m glad that I finally watched it and I feel like it totally deserves my review. Paddington is not your usual run-of-the-mill movie to keep your seven-year old kid entertained for an hour and a half. Adults will also find this heart-warming tale about love and family hilarious as well as deeply affecting. Paddington doesn’t suffer from the same treatment most ‘kiddy’ films get; Most of them are debased to some sort of flat tale with hardly anything emotionally gripping or lasting. You can probably think of a whole list of bad movies with whimsical and ridiculous characters and outright childish storylines and characterization e.g Rio 2, Norm Of The North, Strange Magic, Ice Age etc. While it’s true there have been many other great animated films as well, I’d contend that this one rises to the highest echelons set by Inside Out and Anomalisa. Ultimately a story about adaptation, acceptance and love, Paddington is a movie that gives a surprisingly perceptive depiction of 21st century London (or any other big city for that matter) whilst being one of the best family movies ever.
We’re introduced to an explorer whose expedition in ‘Darkest Peru’ brings him to a unique species of bear. He leaves after spending some time with them in awe of what he has learnt from them but asks ‘I wonder if anything, what they’ve learnt from me’. This line might sound inconsequential to some, but actually sets the premise for what the movie is all about. We learn that the bears become fascinated with Marmalade, a recipe learnt from the explorer. But soon, a natural disaster occurs, forcing our furry and extremely adorable protagonist in search for a new start in London. In one very touching scene, Paddington has to leave his aunt because she’s too old to travel and that she intends to go to an elderly home for bears. I found this hilarious but at the same time, a floodgate of poignancy and sadness quickly overwhelmed me. I’m not sure how but the film has a way with emotional resonance despite the preposterous nature of its premise. If you actually think about it, a bear just tryin’ to get by in London won’t sound very convincing. But the film’s creators have humanized Paddington with articulate language and innocent disposition. Not only do we like the bear from the moment we see him, we’re captivated by this earnest, curious, cute and awkwardly hilarious brown ball of goodness. I really loved that Paddington’s animation was so realistic, I just wanna hug him!!
That’s not to say that Paddington has an easy life though. Far from it. Shattering the perception that Paddington has about a friendly and hospitable London culture, he gets hit with the cold reality that people simply move with the daily hum-drum of life without much care for anything else, much less helping a little bear find a home. How could you 😦 But the point is really that Paddington sort of represents the general idea of a ‘foreigner’ and that one would find it hard to adapt regardless. This notion seems to be flipped when the Brown family decides to house Paddington temporarily before they can find a more suitable home for him. But you’ll notice that amidst the fights and struggles and hilarious incidents that occur as a result of a drastic change in lifestyle for both Paddington and family, there’s a growing sense that Paddington doesn’t quite fit in. There’s an eclectic mix of characters in the movie from the conventional Dad to the kind Mom to the inventive son to the image-obssessed daughter to the sage grandmother to the skeptical neighbour to one determined and depraved taxidermist. I think the fact that characters other than Paddington represent usual archetypes is something that isn’t detrimental but consistent with what the film is trying to say. After all, the film has done such a good job at developing Paddington into a highly unique and compelling character. By making characters in the film mirrors of what a usual society is like, Paddington’s adaptation to life in London becomes more realistic, and our affection and sympathies to Paddington stronger.
The film however, does a fantastic job at resolving its crises. In the end, both Paddington and family are put through a gruelling test of bonds, but emerge as one. United. Loved. The comical moments in the film are borne out of seemingly coincidental happenings and events that work in ways that create totally unexpected consequences. But there was nothing coincidental about how the Browns accepted Paddington as their own. The rooftop scene will have you in tears because you’ll realize that loving another as your own is the most powerful and meaningful thing in the world.
“Mrs Brown says that in London everyone is different, and that means anyone can fit in. I think she must be right – because although I don’t look like anyone else, I really do feel at home. I’ll never be like other people, but that’s alright, because I’m a bear. A bear called Paddington.”