In a world where fierce debates rage about nearly every film, and it seems the only allowable opinions regarding any film are “love it” or “hate it,” it’s comforting to know Paddington exists.
For how could one not love Paddington, the orphaned bear from darkest Peru who travels to London in search of a family and a home?
There’s an unassuming, unpresuming innocence here that washes over the viewer like a cascade of bubbles. For a few minutes, perhaps, you may find yourself floating a few inches off the ground, swept up in the charm of a CGI bear in awe of the world.
But don’t mistake this for some kind of saccharine-sweet, contrived magic. For here, even in Paddington’s London, villains exist—in the form of Nicole Kidman in the first and Hugh Grant in the second.
G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “Fairy tales are true, not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
In the same, way, perhaps, the charm of Paddington is not simply its unrelenting optimism, but its existence in a world overrun by films that, even if they endeavor to be fun and light-hearted (looking at you Peter Rabbit), still manage to cater to something other than the best common denominator.
Oh, and if you’re still in doubt, Hugh Grant considers Paddington 2 to be “the best film I’ve ever been in.”