All of us felt a little awkward growing up. Some more than others. That little inside voice said that something about us was wrong, broken, gross. When we talked to the dead, even our families were all "get a hobby, weirdo." What I'm saying is I finally found a movie I can connect with in ParaNorman.Read More
What if we had little people running around in our heads directing the action? Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear all pushing buttons. Forcing issues. At least you'd then have someone to blame, right?
Inside a little girl named Riley are the personifications of the five base emotions. They've grown up with her, formed her personality, and helped her maintain her composure. First among them is Joy. Joy dominates to a degree far above the others, making the best of every situation to the detriment of Sadness.
Riley's family moves from wintery land (I forget where but there was hockey) to San Francisco. With all the changes, Joy begins to lose control. Forcing the issue, her and Sadness are cast into the mind out of the control room. They must fight their way to get back, finding old imaginary friends and riding trains of thought. The movie's real clever.
The central theme of the movie is embracing sadness. It sounds like a bad theme, but it works. Throughout the film, Joy forces the issue. Hides behind platitudes and tries to protect old happy memories from turning sad. But then we learn without the sadness, how do we know about the joy? We learn depression is not the absense of happiness or overwhelming sadness, but a shutdown of all emotions. That the most dangerous thing the human mind has to fear is itself.
Also, it made me care about a goddamn thing monster called Bing Bong. So it's got that going for it.
Prison movies are hard to get right. I mean, after the Shawshank Redemption, what else can you do? Besides dye all the prison uniforms pink and turn it into a right good place for a spot of tea, anyway? Welcome to the hole, Paddington.
The world's most favorite bear that doesn't sound like a bowel movement, Paddington returns in the sequel to my favorite new comfort film. The bear is still living with the Brown family, but his Aunt Lucy's hundredth birthday is coming up. He's found her the best gift, but when he's framed for stealing it he goes to prison. The Browns work on his release while he makes friends on the inside. Also there's Hugh Grant having a hell of a good time.
It's a very English flick with set pieces of comedy that are charming and fun to watch. Like the first, what starts out as a small mistake on Paddington's part turns a regular event like washing a window into a violent torture scene of hilarity. Even though the film is animated, the physicality is on point. Like Buster Keaton or Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean before, the production creates enjoyable… You know what? It's funny and fun and sweet.
You should see it because you've had a bad day. Or you just want to smile. Or see a flick without 100 people dying or trying to hump each other stupid (although the subtext with Mr. and Mrs. Brown is palpable). It's not a superhero or an assassin. It's just a bear making friends and there's nothing wrong with that.
When I'm having a bad day, there's a few things that brighten it up. I'm not talking about earth-shattering days, just those times when the couch seems like the best option. Songs, movies, books: these are the things made to brighten the soul. Add Paddington to that list.
Paddington, like the books that came before it, is about a bear in a red hat and a blue coat that lives in London. He moves there hoping to find a family. The Browns take him in and in a very standard story, learn to have fuller lives with the clumsy bear in their house. Also, there's a killer taxidermist (Kidman) with a past linked to Paddington's because it's the 2000s, y'all. Action!
My history with this series is spotty. Honestly, I don't seem to have much recollection of when I first heard about Paddington. My grandma was English, from Bristol, but I don't remember her or my mom reading them. Nothing from Summer Reading or school, either. Just looking at that bear in his red hat and blue coat, though, brings a smile to my face. Don't know why.
This movie is like comfort food or a simple ray of sunshine on a rainy day. Check it out however you can and just enjoy it. You might not learn much, you might not grow as a person, but you will smile a small smile at the pure English antics of crumbling scenarios, cross-dressing, and wordplay.