I love Paddington so much.
If you talked to me in the days after I watched Paddington 2, you would have heard me talk about it and how you should see it as soon as possible. In fact, you might have even been annoyed at just how often I mentioned this movie. Unsurprisingly, my feelings have not changed. In fact, they’ve only amplified. Instead of urging people to watch Paddington 2, I am now willing to pay for people’s tickets so they can see this movie. It’s not getting the attention it deserves. Nowhere close.
This movie has often been dismissed because of a few reasons: The marketing, the fact that it’s a kid’s movie, aversion to bears, etc. I’m here to tell you to ignore all of that, because Paddington 2 is a wholesome, delightful movie about a young bear just trying to get a present for his aunt. And it’s blissful.
One of the things that increase this movie’s quality is Paddington himself. He is the most lovable protagonist I’ve seen in a long, long while. He’s polite, he sees the best in people no matter what, he just wants people to get along and stand up for what’s right. Instead of being an annoying hippie, he has this attitude in the wholesome, childlike sense, but not to the point where he’s stupid. He knows when people are in need of a mood correction, he can recognize most social constructs. The ones he can’t recognize are used for jokes and gags to wonderful effect. He is the cutest bear I’ve seen in my life. Eat your heart out, Winnie the Pooh.
Something I often bemoan in kid’s movies is a lack of style. Paddington 2 does not have this problem. This movie, like the last one, looks great. The camerawork looks great. It knows exactly how to draw the viewer’s eye to the action, the subject, whatever we need to focus on. There are quite a few creative shots, with a couple stand out moments taking place one after the other in a prison water pipe, then the cell attached to it. The use of color resembles a Wes Anderson movie, with it’s washed-out but bright colors. It has the aesthetic of a comfy, friendly movie, which makes the tearjerker moments hit even harder.
Speaking of tearjerker moments, there are a couple of them, and they’re beautifully done. At the end of the movie, I almost broke. I managed to power my way through it, but geez. It wasn’t even a sad moment or anything, this was the first time in a movie where I’ve almost cried because I was so overjoyed by what was happening on screen (well, second, but that story’s for another time). It’s such an optimistic movie, it almost made me want to go to prison just so I can test how a little marmalade can brighten everything.
Expanding further on visual style, the effects and animation in this film are incredible. Paddington feels like he’s there, more than most of his other furry contemporaries. There wasn’t a single moment where he looked fake, or a single moment where the actors around him felt like they were looking at nothing. That’s another thing, the direction in regards to Paddington’s effects is amazing. Every single actor that interacts with him further convince the audience that there is an actual bear eating marmalade right in front of them.
The acting in this movie is great, too. Standouts include Brendan Gleeson, Hugh Grant, Ben Whishaw as Paddington, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Peter Capaldi, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, all of the inmates, even the kids do a great job. I realize I’ve basically listed the top billed cast, but I really felt like everyone did a fantastic job. Everyone was vibrant, they all had their own distinct characters, they were all very convincing, and best of all, perfectly cast. Hugh Grant as a disgraced actor doesn’t sound like something that would work, considering his existing career, but he was one of the most entertaining parts of the movie. Brendan Gleeson was born to play the prison chef Knuckles, and the scenes between him and Paddington are some of the most smile-worthy moments in cinema.
I wanted to take a moment to talk about Sally Hawkins. As I mentioned in my Shape of Water review, she is a next-level actress, and she only continues to prove that with this movie. She blends in with every role she plays gracefully. I honestly think she’ll become one of my favorite actors of all time if she continues to be this perfect in her movies. Also, since we’re talking about Sally Hawkins, let’s talk about the similarities between The Shape of Water and Paddington. This applies to the first Paddington more than it does to the second, but I’m mentioning it here anyway. Imagine a great, well-shot movie with a heavy emphasis on the color blue where Sally Hawkins has a fascination with an anthropomorphic animal who learns to communicate with humans, and floods the bathroom. Am I talking about The Shape of Water or Paddington?
This is a movie where the concept brings up a lot of questions. How is there a talking bear? Why aren’t more people freaking out about the fact that there is an actual, real-life bear on the loose? And why isn’t anyone questioning his (almost) seamless fit into a quaint British community? The movie answers these questions in the most beautiful way possible: Who cares? Why is it important? There are other things to focus on that don’t concern the lore of a talking bear. Would it be interesting to find out? Sure, but it wouldn’t be necessary. A logical explanation isn’t needed for everything if the movie follows the rules it sets for itself, and this movie does. This is why both movies can make ridiculous setpieces work, and they never take you out of the movie when they happen. You’re watching a movie where everyone is cool with a talking bear just kinda hanging out. You can believe what’s happening on screen if you can grasp that.
Man. I can’t wait to see this one again. I’m not even gonna waste time with an outro, because I just want to get to the only part about these reviews people even read. The score. Spoiler: It’s really good.
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