Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Cute and stupid.
There are a select group of individuals out there. Picture them if you will. These people don’t exactly appreciate film for the right reasons, but nevertheless, they visit the theater with one goal in mind – to scout the movies looking for the fluffiest, cutest flicks available. If they aren’t cute, then they are horrible movies. These people have become a bit of a problem when it comes to movies, because suddenly, you have a higher demand for cute factors, which has no place in film. It’s called substance people, it’s not that complicated – Paddington is just another cute movie – but is there any good left in the rubble? Sort of, but not really.
What is Paddington about, you ask? Pretty simple, Paddington is the name of a speaking bear…no, not Ted, who moves to London to find the adventurer who taught his parents English…or something like that. Only, what was promised to be a warm welcome turned into something a little more hostile, but cute and friendly Paddington just wants a place to live…because he is a freeloader. Meanwhile, the evil Cruella DeVille…or…I mean Millicent (Nicole Kidman) wants the bear to complete her dastardly taxidermy collection.
Yes, yes – Paddington is a cute little bear and has the best of intentions, but is that all that’s really required for a movie to be considered good? Not in my opinion, at least. However, it does have a few things going for it…but I’ll get to that in a minute. I want to first mention why it doesn’t add up. When this bear moves to London, he arrives at a train station. Think about that for a second, a busy train station with a wild bear in the middle of it, and everyone notices and then ignores the fact that there is a bear in the station. Okay, fine – it’s a kid’s movie, but after the fact, a human makes a call saying they have a bear visiting them, and the person on the other line sounds absolutely stunned to hear that. You can’t have people that notice a bear and not care, and then have people that actually act normal and then care…it doesn’t make sense. I don’t care that it’s a movie and things are different, but I do care about continuity.
There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t make sense, including why this family of bears have the ability to speak, but in a vast forest where they’ll meet other bears, why those don’t speak English too? Like I said, movie science doesn’t have to match up to real science, but it does have to meet up with its own. But hey, it’s a kids film…and for some reason, kids movies don’t seem to think they have to abide by the same basic rules and structure any other movie has to follow. All it is now is lights, colors, and a heck of a lot of physical humor. I mean, a whole lot.
Believe it or not, the physical humor in this movie was definitely its strongest. It’s to be expected in any fun kids movie, but what I actually realized was the material wasn’t that bad. I found myself legitimately laughing at some of the things that this bear does. I figure that has something to do with the material’s originality. Parts of the plot seem borrowed from various sources, but the actual jokes weren’t terrible, so guess what – kids will laugh and laugh.
The worst part of all this? Nicole Kidman’s character. Every kids movie seems to feel an inescapable obligation to always have a “bad guy”. I don’t really understand why, either. Paddington already had a personal goal, and was hitting obstacles along the way. The story was already set in stone, and suddenly, there’s a bad guy thrown in the mix and it all feels imbalanced because of that. Sure, her story gets a little better along the way, but a majority of it was completely unneeded.