Paddington 2 is for those who liked Paddington 1. I saw Paddington on DVD back when my local Blockbuster was still open. It’s amazing what a difference three years will make. I had missed it at the movies-the trailer didn’t get me enthused. I had some dim fond memories from childhood but this CGI bear would not do. He looked too fake and I could care less if he used toothbrushes in his ears. All the comedic set-ups seemed tired and silly. The sequel’s trailer is a prime example. Paddington has a pair of clippers and there’s a stuffy old British man waiting for his haircut in the local barber where Paddington works. How is that going to possibly end I wonder? There’s a stupid inevitability to such premises that I have no interest in. Although I will admit during said scene the other day I heard children laughing in the theatre and suddenly such things did seem funny.
Three years ago I got the DVD from my Blockbuster, probably Karen got it truth be told, and we watched it and I smiled. Maybe I rarely laughed out loud but I smiled. I smiled the kind of smile you only smile when you’ve been absolutely charmed and I was charmed by that film and more importantly by that little Peruvian bear. He always looks CGI but there’s fantastic design work from the animators to make you fall in love with this bear backed up by Ben Whishaw’s voice work and spirit of Michael Bond’s books. Paddington is always polite, always has his heart in the right place and always tries his best and believes in the better nature of people unless they invoke a good hard stare. Paddington exists in a world of fiction too where hardened criminals can make gardens once they’re shown a little kindness. These qualities are essential to what makes the character and these current films so wonderful to watch.
Getting these things right were crucial and now everything else follows. Things like a stellar British cast where even the normal characters have a whiff of the oddball about them, the villains are played broadly but avoid cutting a slice of ham and the production values are gorgeous. Usually set bound but clean, colourful and yet homely. When foreigners think of living in London they think of a street like the one Paddington lives on. I was charmed by the first and I have been charmed by the second one even more. Perhaps because Hugh Grant as a villain seemed like a funnier character than Nicole Kidman’s scary one in the previous film.
More likely it was the running theme of Paddington wanting to be reunited with family. My sister as you may recall lives just outside of London and she has come back a few times to see us including for my wedding. There is a part of me that would very much like to go see her in London one day soon but I don’t believe that is very likely and my parents are reaching an age where it is unlikely they will make such trips. I was charmed by Paddington throughout but at the end I felt a little betrayed. The movie ended abruptly on a moving scene and the lights in the cinema immediately went up revealing the audience as a whole with tears running down our cheeks. This is a great family movie.
Just a quick post to let you know I wrote a short retrospective on Tom Hanks career talking about his Five Best Films in my humble opinion over at Heavy Magazine. You can find that here https://heavymag.com.au/retrospective-tom-hanks-five-best-films/ With such an illustrious career there are many gems to champion so feel free to sound off in the comments about what your Top 5 would be.
Heavy is an independent magazine and website that is all about the music and specifically heavy music and supporting the Australian music scene in general. Fortunately for me they do cover film as well and I have been fortunate to have a few things published there.
After so many delayed sequels to franchises that hold audiences in nostalgic reverie we finally get one for a female centric audience. Bridget Jones’s Baby is a perfectly respectable effort that neither demands a fourth go around nor sullies your memories of the first two which still remain better films.
Bridget Jones 3 has to overcome a few challenges with Hugh Grant failing to return as Daniel Cleaver. Sure his character served no purpose past the first film but he had such presence as an utter wanker it feels underwhelming not having him. The bigger challenges are twofold, one it’s easier to tell a story of two people falling in love than tell a story of them being in love and two is often the curse of the delayed sequel, how do you present new dramatic tension in the character’s lives without allowing them to have grown and moved forward.
Time has passed since the last film, Bridget and Mark have broken up years ago having it become clear that they were not a good match after all. She has continued in her career with a great deal of success and has a social circle that includes old friends who have become domesticated with kids and others who can still head off to a music festival for the weekend rather than go quietly into the night. Bridget no longer smokes and is more comfortable with her body now having achieved a healthy lifestyle courtesy of Renee Zellweger refusing to put on weight for the sequel. She meets Mark at a party and despite maybe their break up being for the best of reasons they fall into old habits because it feels familiar and comforting. You ever done that? At the music festival she meets a nice enough cute guy who’s digging her and when in a Yurt with Ed Sheeran playing she finds herself living in the moment and letting the alcohol take you somewhere frisky. You ever done that?
Then Bridget finds out she’s pregnant and can’t quite decide who she wants to be the Dad and so both get involved in her life. Jack Qwant played by Patrick Dempsey is a millionaire, drives a motorbike, looks great and is very emotionally available. You know-he’s a fuckin’ smug prick. A key scene shows Mark and Qwant (try saying that 5 times really fast and see what comes out) trying to assist Bridget with Qwant getting the upper hand in helpfulness. Finally Mark endearingly offers to hold her phone having run out of options. In that moment you love Mark Darcy yet again. Every guy has been in that situation and most girls know it’s the guy who wants to help you out of love not scoring points who’s the catch.
The film is well mounted and of now, job security and facing the other side of 40 with a happy life but not necessarily a family feel very current. Bridget has changed with the times but stayed still lovable and endearing reminding us all that Renee Zellweger should really get more work if she wants it. Film work that is.
An enjoyable enough sequel until a flashback with the two leads circa 2001 reminds us how much we loved the original. Bridget Jones’s Baby ain’t quite as funny or memorable as that film was and is but it’s a nice enough diversion.