Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I have learned so much from the bears.

I've spent just over a decade as a teacher, and though there are many awful things about the job, the worst has to be how often I'm lied to. On average, I'm probably lied to fifty times a day. Somehow more insulting, most of them aren't even good lies, either. Someone tells me they didn't get the homework with about as much conviction as the person at the drive-thru says May I take your order? Eventually this nonsense beats you down, and you stop believing most of what you hear.

But when one of my students (a good dude, too) recommended that I take my son to the movies later that day (because the movie is sooooo good), I suppressed ten years of misplaced guile and said simply:

Okay. I'll do it.

Poster? Awful. Movie? Brilliant. Marketing department? Fired.
Paddington is an excellent children's movie. In fact, I might even suggest those of you currently living the dream (i.e. having no kids) should check it out as well. My student was absolutely correct: it's really, really good.

For me, the preview did the film no justice, as it looked like another steaming pile of talking animal poop, but that is certainly not the case. There is no unnecessary singing, no annoying little bastard kid (living next door or otherwise), and no misplaced all star celebrity cast! Paddington eschews all of the typical kid movie dreck, and opts for being nothing short of lovely. I look forward to seeing it again.

I'm not really sure how the story goes in the books, but in the film, Paddington arrives in London after his home on Darkest Peru is destroyed. While I thought the whole it's a talking bear! thing would be a big deal, charmingly enough - it isn't. People accept that he can talk, it's Paddington himself they reject. Flatly.

Eventually, despite Dad's pleas otherwise, a family stops and offers to help Paddington. He's so gracious, and so polite, it's a wonder they don't just adopt him on the spot.  The plan, however, is to reunite the bear with famed British explorer Montgomery Clyde, who just so happened to have discovered the bears years ago. Dad, played by the delightful Hugh Bonneville, is a cautious guy, and this bear business is risky. Paddington can stay...for one night. 

That's it.

Look, you know how this is going to end. You know that ol' stuffy Dad will come around, you know that the villain will be thwarted, and you know that everything will be alright in the end. That's not the point. Every aspect of this film is presented so innocently, so warmly, the formula doesn't matter. In fact, my son Matty, who I essentially had to drag to the theater, literally GASPED when Paddington was in absolute peril (I'm not kidding when I say he was genuinely concerned [an emotion I've never seen out of him while watching a movie]). Not that he was alone on that...

Speaking of being emotionally invested in fictional characters, here are the Yays and Boos. Like Paddington, they too have dreamed of visiting London. But as plane tickets are really expensive, we'll just have to settle on watching Guy Ritchie movies, the EPL, and an occasional episode of The Octonauts instead.

She's in the business of stuffing things.
My pants, for example, felt rather full.
  • I don't think I've ever even had marmalade, but the bear's system of harvesting it made me immediately crave a jar. Or two.
  • I thought the Home for Retired Bears meant something else. Something sadder. Turns out? Totally literal.
  • Not only is the bear language impossibly silly (and awesome), but so is that moment when Dad tries it and says something woefully inappropriate. Mr. Brown. That is extremely rude.
  • You know you're getting old when you start noticing how nice the house is, but the Brown's pad is truly beautiful. That tree!
  • And speaking of...the dollhouse transitions were incredible, too. Reminded me of a less-minimalistic version of Wes Anderson.
  • I didn't know that Nicole Kidman was in this. Nor did I know that she would have massive boobs, either.
  • I also didn't know that Jim Broadbent was in this. Oh, and his boobs are just regular.
  • But my favorite real person? Sally Hawkins, hands down. She is pure magic as the delicate mum.
  • Somewhat reminiscent of the 'house band' in There's Something About Mary, we're treated to a pretty sweet calypso band that appears onscreen to provide the soundtrack. Very cool.
  • Paddington gets some clothes and marvels at the accompanying sandwich compartments. Or what you might refer to as pockets.
  • There is a scene where Mr. Brown (the father) infiltrates the wondrous Geography Society that almost made me cry it was so funny. Let's just say it has two things that always amount to comedic gold: false limbs and pervy security guards. Stop that sexy woman!
  • Molly Weasley I mean, Mrs. Bird. She should be the cinematic standard for quirky old lady, as Julie Walters dials up the absurdity to a perfectly proper level.
  • And finally, luck. Not only was it lucky that my student happened to see this movie (he's a gigantic 8th grader), but he was the last person I spoke with before we were dismissed early for a snow day. Even better? Sixty minutes later, my son was dismissed from school. And sixty minutes after that? Showtime.
  • Paddington's initial life as a stowaway reminded made me nervous. I kept waiting for Richard Parker to jump out and eat him.
  • C'mon, London. You're really going to treat Paddington like that? I mean, who leaves a talking bear right near the nine and three-quarter platform? It's just rude.
  • Dead parents. I know this is basically a rule in kid's movies, but c'mon, Paddington! And no, Dead Uncle is just as bad.
  • It was cute, fine, but what Paddington does with two toothbrushes full of earwax still makes me shudder.
  • Lionel Ritchie's 'Hello' makes an appearance. That's not a Boo, actually, just the fact that that song completely kills me everytime is (it's so good/laughably bad I can't help it).
  • You know that moment when the sweet, misunderstood character is blamed for ruining everything but it's not really their fault? As I'm not the hugest fan of feeling utterly helpless...I hate that moment. Quite a bit actually.
  • (I'm going to add this one after consulting with Fisti: Nicole Kidman. Yeah...she's hot, but her character [and performance] is straight out of Alvin & the Chipmunks 9, while every other aspect of this movie is the first 10 minutes of Up.)
  • And finally, the fact that Matty and I were completely alone in the theater. That's not actually surprising, as we were in the middle of a snowstorm (great parenting, right?), but I hate how some of the better kid's movies routinely get ignored. Shameful!
It looks like the oft-burned cynic with the shriveled, black heart not only liked a whimsical children's movie, but saw it, after listening to a child recommend it! Talking bears, seem completely logical. But that? That just seems absurd. But trust me, this movie is really, really good. Of course, I could be mistaken.

But I wouldn't lie to you.


  1. I am glad your student didn't lead you astray. This is one movie EVERYBODY seems to love. I really want to take my 11 y/o. And wow -- this looks like a good cast. Julie Waters, Jim Broadbent, Sally Hawkins ... nice!

    1. I really think you'll both enjoy it. I mean...a delightfully goofy Broadbent is likely all you need. Everything else is pure bonus.

  2. I've read two Paddington reviews this morning that are practically the same review I wrote yesterday, and I find that so awesome to finally be on the same page as people with regards to a movie this year! LOL, everything you said, so much so...down to the doll house!

    1. I was worried there was something in the popcorn, but it's refreshing to see that we all agree for once.

      I love that damn doll house.

    2. I didn't even EAT popcorn that day! It must have been good!!!

  3. Nice review! I kind of wrote this off at creepy when I first started seeing advertisements for it, but maybe it's something I'll take my kid to.

    1. Thanks! I thought it looked not only creepy, but also incredibly stupid. PADDINGTON ON A SKATEBOARD! PADDINGTON SURFS THE TUB DOWN THE STAIRS! [insert Krusty the Clown laugh here].

      But instead of the typical kick in the balls that kid's movies can be...it's just so sweet and charming. It's insane how much I liked it.

  4. Wow I actually may see that one even though I usually stay clear of children films. They always make me cry, I basically cannot watch Pixar.

    1. Maybe the only thing more shocking than how good this movie is, would be the fact that I wasn't a weepy mess at the end of it. I think the only emotion allowed here is an overwhelming sense of joy and wonder.

      Oh, I'm with you Sati. Pixar, as a rule, typically leaves me in the tattered remains of something that only resembles a fully-grown man. It's quite sad, honestly.