Paddington (2014)

Paddington (2014)

A family adventure that's funnier and more meaningful than it has any right to be

The Very Best

8.1

Movie

France, UK
English
Adventure, Comedy, Family, Kids
2014
PAUL KING
Alexander Bracq, Alice Lowe, Ancuta Breaban
96 min

TLDR

He is the King of England, as far as I'm concerned.

What it's about

Looking for a new home in London, a young bear is taken in by an English family, as a cruel taxidermist tries to track him down.

The take

In a global movie industry of children's entertainment that often feels like it isn't even trying, this little Peruvian bear coming to England is a wonderful reminder that films aimed at younger audiences aren't inherently limited. If anything, Paddington challenges itself to come up with a far more creative (and effective) way to talk about the lingering scars of colonialism manifesting as discrimination in everyday "civil" society. It sounds like heavy stuff, but Paddington approaches its fish-out-of-water story with the exact counterbalance of silliness, and a riotous cast that's far funnier than anyone would have expected them to be.

What stands out

Paddington 2 is widely accepted as the superior film between the two entries in this new series so far, and it's easy to see why. But this first movie takes on the arguably more difficult task of setting up the central metaphor of Paddington's existence, and connecting it to present-day discrimination—and the film does this with flying colors. There's a very particular tone that family/children's movies seek to strike, and Paul King's screenplay manages to hit that sweet spot with ease: never too saccharine, but confronting the terrible things with sage, sober wisdom. As an immigrant narrative, this might be one of the best that the UK has put out in the last 10 years.

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