Paddington 2

Fighting despair with kindness

By Bradley Lane

The Nic Cage comedy, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, is currently in theaters and is apparently quite good based on word-of-mouth reviews the film has received since its release. However, ahead of the film hitting theaters, a clip was released of the two main characters bonding over their shared love of the 2017 film Paddington 2. This shoutout, along with its recent release on HBO Max, means there has never been a better time to familiarize yourself with the wonderful, polite talking bear named Paddington.

Here is a quick recap of the first Paddington to get you up to speed: a young bear emigrates from Peru to London and is adopted by the Brown family upon his arrival and, using his unfailingly optimism and uniquely uncorrupted worldview, improves the lives of everyone around him. In Paddington 2, Paddington wants to get a gift for his aunt in Peru, the bear who initially instilled his love of British culture. He settles on an antique pop-up book of British landmarks, but when the book is stolen by a nefarious actor who seeks secrets within the book, Paddington takes the fall and ends up in prison.

The wonderful thing about the filmmaking behind the tale of this adorable bear is that every level of the material is treated as important. It is clearly reflected in the films that the cast, crew, writers and director all care deeply about these stories. Paddington 2 has spectacularly tense action sequences, hilarious Chaplin-esque slapstick and an emotional core that would make any Pixar film jealous. Yet, despite all these elements working toward the benefit of the film, none of them are the best part about this film.

What makes Paddington 2 so special is the bear at the heart of the film. Paddington’s character is so painfully sincere and sweet, that everyone he interacts with becomes a better, more compassionate version of themselves. Despite his naïve nature and clumsiness, no one treats Paddington with any less respect or dignity than they would like to be treated with which creates a world that is better with every small kindness each person performs.

This infectious positivity has even leeched itself into other films and television shows in the years following its release. Ted Lasso was the biggest show of 2020 by virtue of its leading character reflecting a similar level of unyielding optimism and heart in a time where positive news was nowhere to be found in our real world. Even the biggest film of 2022, the gritty crime thriller The Batman, is about the main character’s growth from representing fear to becoming a symbol of hope. Paddington 2 lead the charge to fight a bleak seeming world with positivity instead of the sardonic sarcasm that defined much of the media of the 2010s.

If you’re anything like me, the state of the world can feel like a constant weight in your day-to-day life but thankfully Paddington 2 is streaming on HBO Max now to lighten that weight just a little bit and remind you that changing the world can be as simple as a small act of compassion. – 5/5 stars