“It takes a bear to catch a thief” but this bear definitely stole my heart. Not only is Paddington singlehandedly bringing back bucket hats, but he will make you want to hug everything. I have never wanted to eat marmalade so much after seeing Paddington chomp them up like he chomped my heart.
I didn’t really know what to expect going into the theater. I hadn’t seen any of the trailers (or really heard about the film until this week) and I didn't watch the first movie or read any of the books. For the most part, I was looking for a film to test my new MoviePass on, and wow, was this film a delight. This movie, and most its characters, are adorably gentle and kind-hearted and oh so posh.
The movie opens with two very British bears perched on a bridge over a waterfall discussing their retirement plans for London when they come across small Paddington. And if the marmalade-loving bears don’t swoop your heart, the stunning visuals will. The hyper-realistic CGI is absolutely killer and breathtaking. Cut to a bigger and more grown-up Paddington with his Brown family and the entire sequence that follows of him greeting and helping out his neighbors is honestly too cute to put into words. In order to try to gift his Aunt Lucy (the bear parent from earlier) a London present, Paddington comically goes through (and fails in) a number of odd jobs, very reminiscent to Mr. Bean.
Speaking of Mr. Bean, the references and inspirations in this movie are so jam-packed (or should I say marmalade-packed?) Hints of Chaplin, Halloweentown, Ratatouille, Stuart Little, Matilda, and Orange is the New Black are tossed into this film, snowballing into an emotional climax that somehow managed to do a throwback to both Angels & Demons and The Shape of Water. I also believe Sally Hawkins was much better served in this movie than her fish movie. And if that wasn’t enough, the ending musical number as the credits rolled is very obviously a tribute to Annie and Singing in the Rain, the classics.
This film is so clear in its direction and inner philosophy of kindness, and it never once strays away from it. Even when Paddington gets #triggered as Nuckels, the chef, trash talks Aunt Lucy, Paddington gives him a “hard stare” he learned from Aunt Lucy in lieu of anything violent. In a year post-Brexit and post-Trump election, Paddington 2 felt like a subtle and good-natured response to the anger and hatred that is swirling through society.
The only downside of this movie was the awful trailer for the racist Wes Anderson film Isle of Dogs that played beforehand, but thankfully, James Corden’s voice in the Peter Rabbit trailer saved the day and set me up for a wonderful filmgoing experience. You will go into the theater expecting a cute bear movie, but you will get so much more. You will laugh and cry and laugh and cry again because this movie was one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. But of course you knew that because it is also no surprise that this film beat out Lady Bird in its 100% Rotten Tomato rating. The true Oscars snub victim was Paddington 2.