In the deep jungles of darkest Peru, British geographer Montgomery Clyde happens upon a previously unknown species of bear. He is about to shoot it to take back a specimen to the United Kingdom when another bear playfully takes his gun away. He learns that this family of bears is intelligent and can learn English, and that they have a deep appetite for marmalade. He names them Lucy and Pastuzo. As he departs, he throws his hat to Pastuzo and tells the bears that they are always welcome should they wish to go to London. (Wikipedia)This was completely off my radar since my kids are grown and I never encountered the Paddington books. An upcoming visit with our 5-year-old goddaughter and Paddington 2's stellar reviews brought the original movie to my attention. How lucky for me that it was streaming on Netflix so I could catch up before taking Maggie to the movies next weekend.
Several years later, Lucy and Pastuzo's young nephew sets off to London, but fails to find either the explorer or a home. He is taken in briefly by the Brown family, while unbeknownst to him he is being pursued by a Museum of Natural History scientist with evil designs.
What a delight this was. Much like Babe, this didn't talk down to children and still had plenty for adults to enjoy. It was charmingly old fashioned while being set in the modern world, funny without being stupid or crude, and balanced sweetness with playful mischief. There was also a certain amount of mystery and danger that engaged us, despite all expectations.
We were all impressed at the level of care that went into the film, from the shooting and production design, to the completeness of the story. For example, we watched with a daughter who's watched many a movie with a good friend who is a production artist and always pointed out background reinforcement of the story. So we were clued in to the color scheme. Red is adventurous and on Paddington's side. Blue is careful and apprehensive about the world. The way family members' clothing changes depending on their character development and the storyline was delightful.
And the story didn't show us a single marmalade sandwich in the opening act that it didn't use by the end. The use of a running joke as an dramatic plot device at the ends was brilliant. It was a really well constructed script.
Paddington 2 is supposed to be even better, though I'm darned if I know how they'll achieve it. I'm just grateful it brought this movie to our attention.