Wash your hands…do not touch your face…stay indoors…

Global Pandemic? Watch Paddington 2 Instead

In these trying times, let’s remember what matters; a 2017 movie “for kids”.

Paddington looking at a pop-up book of London.
Paddington looking at a pop-up book of London.

A few days ago, during my daily ritual of falling down the social media rabbit hole, I came across this tweet:

My initial reaction was as you’d expect — I laughed, knowing fine well other writers that know the need to convert every-day thoughts into think-pieces were nodding. However, it did bring to mind a question: what was my impact on this upcoming onslaught of remote-work blog posts going to be?

Was I going to list a bunch of under-appreciated albums to listen to while self-isolating? Who knows, maybe I’d try and explain how a B-tier Disney film was an interesting insight into whatever topic I fancied that day. Little did I know that later that night, looking for something to distract me from my media-induced worry, a cub in a blue duffle coat would be my answer.

Paddington wearing an assortment of fruit on his head, glasses, and a fake moustache.
Paddington wearing an assortment of fruit on his head, glasses, and a fake moustache.
“Please, Mr Gruber, be serious.”

Of course, what I’m referring to is 2017’s follow up to Paddington called (you guessed it) Paddington 2. I won’t be the first nor the last to point out that despite your hunch that it’s a silly movie to distract the kids with, it is so much more. Upon its release, many rightfully pointed out its importance; in a post-Brexit world where more ethnic minorities were reporting racial discrimination, Paddington 2 acknowledged this and embraced the power of comradery and diversity in the face of bigotry. Doing this while also having our titular character washing windows with his bum is no small feat.

The point of my post is not to bring up, what is at this point, a well-established point. There are two main reasons why I feel Paddington 2 is a well-needed viewing:

1) A Message of Perseverance and Hope

Throughout most of this film, Paddington is thrown into the box of being someone that doesn’t belong. That can be metaphorical, like in the case of Peter Capaldi’s self-appointed street-warden who has it out for him; in his own words, “we don’t want him here”. It’s also literal when our furry protagonist is thrown into jail for a crime he didn’t commit — I swear this is not one of those films and is actually child-friendly.

The plot goes from being mere silly fun to a welcome reminder that with a little hope and persistence, actions will result in change.

Before his unfair sentencing though, Paddington remains driven and optimistic in the face of adversity. When he wishes to purchase a pop-up book of London and is told the lofty price by Mr Gruber, he pushes himself out of his comfort zone to earn the money himself.

Paddington in a pink prison outfit, leaning over a table.
Paddington in a pink prison outfit, leaning over a table.
He do be looking kinda fresh doe…

Even when he finds himself the latest inmate at the local prison, he won’t back down. Confronted with the daunting task of “dealing” with the short-tempered cook Knuckles, Paddington is unlike the rest of his prison mates. “If you look for the good in people, you’ll find it” he utters before walking up to him and turning his attitude around, bit by bit. He goes from doing “nothing for nobody” to being the one to #FREEPADDY.

While the movie’s perspective of jail may be a tad innocent, it’s worth bearing (haha)in mind that it is through the lens of a child and the morals are important all the same. In fact, I would call the movie’s take…*deep breath*…woke.

Paddington looks at a newspaper with his prison friends.
Paddington looks at a newspaper with his prison friends.
Oh to be part of a prison crew with Brendan Gleeson…

Prisons are a place for rehabilitation and when that is reinforced by Paddington, the plot goes from being mere silly fun to a welcome reminder that with a little hope and persistence, actions will result in change. I don’t think you need me to tell you the relevance.

2) A Wholesome Distraction

It’s been established that this film has a message that you can use to justify your love for it amongst your Letterboxd film pals. That being said though, did anyone tell you that you can love a film simply for being….fun?

The warmth, wisdom and wit are so precisely distilled that he really feels like no anthropomorphic character I’ve come across before.

While the commentary held within definitely elevates my appreciation for this film, I can’t deny the reason I wanted to talk about this movie in the first place. That reason being Paddington 2’s near unparalleled ability to put a smile on my face and have me chuckling with no shame.

Paddington touching a device that makes his hair fuzz up.
Paddington touching a device that makes his hair fuzz up.
I’m in Your Mind Fuzz

For the record, the whole cast should be applauded for their charm but I would kick myself for not giving specific praise to Ben Whishaw. Whishaw’s performance as the latest addition to the Brown clan feels like a match made in heaven; the warmth, wisdom and wit are so precisely distilled that he feels like no anthropomorphic character I’ve come across before.

It’s not just the charm that makes this movie entertaining because it’s also a bloody lovely looking movie. The Wes Anderson comparisons have been made plenty with the prison look just screaming Grand Budapest.

That being said though, there are plenty of visuals that aren’t borrowed and are completely eye candy; Paddington buried beneath all those oranges; that bird’s eye shot in the church of the nun’s progression; that entire compilation of Paddington showing Aunt Lucy through the pop-up streets of London. If I had enough skin, I would tattoo every beautiful shot on me.

Paddington surrounded by oranges.
Paddington surrounded by oranges.
I’m not making an orange joke. You legally cannot make me do it.

I did say before that plot is elevated beyond being just silly but the fun aspect never ceases. It starts relatively strong with Paddington’s antics to get the money to buy the book — the scene in the barbers has become something of a comfort food to me now.

As the movie progresses, however, the sheer scope increases with Hugh Grant’s campy and villainous Paul Buchanan getting into all sorts of hijinx in the pursuit of treasure. It all leads up to a great third act that sees the Browns and Buchanan face-off on opposing trains; Mission Impossible has nothing on Paddington’s toffee apple escapade across the carriages.

Everything Will Be Alright

I may not know entirely how to end a feature but Paddington 2 sure does. I dare not spoil it for any of you blessed/silly enough not to have seen it for the first time but it’s nothing short of euphoric. Yes, I called the Paddington Bear movie euphoric and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s probably not medically healthy how much my heart wells and my eyes ache from crying but I am my own man.

I’m not going to lecture or inform you on what’s going on; it’s scary and we can only really follow the limited advice that we’ve got. Be extra vigilant, take whatever precautions are necessary, give a hard stare if you need to. If I can tell you one thing, it’s this: if you reading this manage to find a spare 105 minutes and need a pick-me-up then you know what to do.

Or better yet, what to watch.

Multi-media journalist over analysing and oversharing via the power of Medium. Find me over on YouTube @ liamthemusicreviewer.

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