Over the last few years, there has been no shortage of excellent children’s films. “The Little Prince” is a quiet charmer (2015), while “Moana” (2016) and “Inside Out” (2015) are just as visually stunning, critical darlings. “The Incredibles 2” (2018) brought back one of animations ‘super’ families, and “Boss Baby” (2017) brought on the laughs. There’s one film, though, that needs to be in this discussion. It’s the ever-glorious, charming “Paddington” (2014).
“Paddington,” based on the beloved British children’s book series from Michael Bond, tells the story of the eponymous marmalade-loving young bear who travels to London after the death of his uncle Pastuzo. Early in the film, he stands in Paddington station with his signature red hat, blue coat, and wellies when the Brown family see him and make the decision to invite him to their home. The patriarch of the family, straight-laced Mr. Brown (a delightful Hugh Bonneville), is hesitant to let him stay longer. But Mrs. Brown (a gleaming Sally Hawkins) and the two children persuade Mr. Brown to let Paddington become a part of their family.
In a way, everything Paddington touches turns to marmalade – sweet and delightful. He has a way of bringing out the best in people, making an ordinary situation grand. Take, for example, the Brown family. He persuades Mr. Brown to lighten up, gets into all sorts of mischief at the Natural History Museum, and even faces the film’s villain with characteristic kindness and humility.
“Paddington” is the rare film both critics and audiences across the globe can rejoice in. It’s a film that could have easily been a flop since many loyal readers of the book series could have come into the theatre already having high expectations. But the movie is pitch perfect for the way that it combines a sense of childlike wonder with a sharp and colorful visual style, and expertly cast actors for a script that hits the right the formal tone. Once more, the sequel, “Paddington 2” manages to keep the same quality for the reprisal–a rarity and a luxury.