I do not remember when I last saw a movie that charmed me as much as Paddington 2. It’s funny, well-acted, lovely to look at, and has a strong moral center.
I almost never go to movies, yet in January alone I’ve seen two movies and loved both of them. The first was Darkest Hour, which I wrote about here. The second, which I saw yesterday and am focusing on now, is Paddington 2.
Before getting to the substantive stuff, let me start with the most obvious issue: Given that this movie is Paddington 2, must one first see the original Paddington movie? The answer is no. This is a stand-alone movie. I know this for a fact because I didn’t see the original Paddington. While seeing the original might have added a little more depth to Paddington 2 (something I’m not qualified to address), I never felt I missed out on anything. I believe I caught every joke and charming moment in the movie.
Paddington 2’s plot is simple: Paddington Brown, a bear living with the Brown family on a sweet street in London, wants to get the perfect birthday gift for his Aunt Lucy. He finds an antique pop-up book about London, and then sets about to earn the money to pay for it. The day before he was to have bought the book, it’s stolen — and Paddington is the only suspect. The little bear ends up in prison and the rest of the movie involves Paddington and his many friends working to clear his name. It is, in other words, a generic plot.
What’s not generic is how delightful, charming, warm, funny, and moral the movie is. (And I’m sure I’ve left out some equally apt, kvellingly positive adjectives.) Since one sees a movie, let me begin with the movie’s look. It is total eye candy, without ever being sickeningly saccharine. London is a shiny, sparkling clean City with beautiful colors, occasionally shot from fascinating angles. Even the prison is a pleasant place to see.
Paddington’s computer rendered animation is perfect. For the entire length of the movie, I forgot that I was watching a being that existed only on the computer and the screen. Paddington was a completely three-dimensional character, from the individual furs on his body, to the little skin cells that you see on your dog’s nose, to eyes and ears that conveyed so much emotion they alone deserve an Oscar for Best Actor. Combine these visual pleasures with Ben Whishaw’s voice acting, which perfectly combines warmth and a naive dignity, and suspension of disbelief becomes the easiest thing in the world. [Read more…]