MovieByte 124: You’re Not the Boss of Me

TJ Draper and I reviewed Paddington, a very charming British family flick. The young, extra-smart bear goes to London, where he is befriended by the Browns, and is pursued by a malicious museum taxidermist. I give this fun, but often formulaic, flight of fantasy ★★★☆☆.

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I wish I could have articulated some of my thoughts about Paddington better. Here goes:

  • This film starts off hitting all of the right notes. It is charming, cute, innocent, and… happy. It is true to the Paddington bear source material at first.
  • The Brown family is fleshed out. The city of London and Paddington’s perception of the world around him are lovingly intertwined.
  • The bears’ animation is the right balance of realistic animal and playful art. He usually reminds you of an innocent storybook character, but embodied by a living creature — even though that creature on screen isn’t actually real.
  • Then the villain consumes much of the charm and stands in the way of Paddington’s fun. Nicole Kidman’s Millicent doesn’t add up. She belongs to a different story.
  • The locations for the final showdown in the museum are stifling the potential action. They don’t lend themselves to an exciting climax, like say the airport in Toy Story 2, or Metro City in Megamind. Or consider the final 'battle' in The LEGO Movie. The locations amplify the action sequences.
  • Whenever the movie isn’t adorable, Paddington is paying homage to overly formulaic plot points. It happens more and more during the second half of the film.
  • In spite of the shortcomings that dampen my enthusiasm as a member of adults that watch such films for our children’s benefit, there is ample heart and soul to Paddington’s movie. The kids will overlook all of the flaws.

TL;DR I wish that Paddington’s story was as clever as a Pixar film yet stayed true to itself. I got half of what I wished for. And I wasn’t happy with the villain, Millicent.

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Joe Darnell

Joe is a UI and graphic designer with prior experience as the creative director for three media-based businesses. Joe’s passionate about web design and graphic design with about 15 years of experience in the media industry. Additionally, Joe is the host of the Top Brew and Techtonic podasts, both featured on iTunes.