This guest column was written by Hannah McCarthy, a producer and writer at Rooster Teeth.


Paddington 2 might genuinely stand as one of the best films of 2018, and no, I’m not being facetious or hyperbolic.

With the movie coming to home video on Wednesday, March 21, it seems like a good time to remind everyone that not only is Paddington 2 uplifting and beautifully animated, it’s also incredibly smartly written, even when it doesn’t need to be to get laughs. So, prepare yourselves a stack of marmalade sandwiches and allow me to plead my case as to why Paddington 2 is the film we all need, right now.

Paddington 2 leans into the whimsy of a world in which bears can learn to speak, hold jobs in London, and make a mean sandwich, however none of this strikes any of the film’s near-equally loveable characters as strange (with the exception of Peter Capaldi’s alarmist neighborhood watchman, Mr. Curry). There are no spit-takes or gasping, no cheesy record scratches, and no pointed exclamations of “a talking BEAR?!” Paddington’s anthropomorphism is acknowledged as slightly odd, but no more unheard of than a teenager learning how to drive steam trains in his bedroom. Paddington’s a bear with two families (bear and human), a staunch work ethic, and big dreams. And it just so happens he can talk, and that’s totally fine.

It’s in that magical realism of Paddington 2 that the film’s overarching theme of acceptance thrives. We are effortlessly reminded that although someone may seem worlds apart from us, these surface level differences don’t dictate what kind of person (or bear!) they truly are. In Paddington’s case, he just happens to be the most kind-hearted, selfless, compassionate little talking bear there ever was, and thankfully his cheerful voice isn’t diminished by cheap laughs derived from ridiculing his very existence.

It still manages to be surprisingly funny, though, and it’s a huge credit to the writers that the humor of the film is as open-hearted and kind as the narrative itself. It would’ve been easy to make us laugh at a talking bear, or at almost any of the other unusual characters the film celebrates, but instead it makes us laugh with them, and never at them. Even the villain is delightful, somehow managing to, even as the “bad guy,” further cement Paddington’s overarching theme of “love.”

And on that note, Paddington’s adventures in London are, at their heart, stories about an outsider trying to learn how to fit in and come to terms with his own unique place in society. Despite the fact that Paddington spends the majority of his time making mistakes and getting into trouble, the film never treats him as a failure or laughs at his struggles. The characters that surround Paddington appreciate his perspective, naive or overly-trusting as it may be. They come to love him for his own special skills and personality, and find themselves growing and becoming better versions of themselves as a result. I frankly don’t know if I’ve ever seen a film that’s so appreciative of every character in it, and I certainly never expected that to come from one about an animated bear.

This is a timely and necessary reminder for children and adults alike

Everywhere Paddington goes, he meets people who are disconnected or feel without friendship, and he brings them into the fold. Be it a crotchety neighbor who lives in a gloom-filled apartment or hardened criminals in prison, Paddington, with his special knack, fosters communities of compassion everywhere he goes. The calypso band that occasionally pops up to accompany Paddington on his journeys is a perfect musical representation of this, as Tobago and d’Lime sing, “Life would be easier, time would be breezier, if you love your neighbor.” Given many of the struggles we face in the real world, this is a timely and necessary reminder for children and adults alike.

The entire film is a vocal refutation of the belief that it’s cool to be cynical or mean. It believes wholly and boisterously in the the value of compassion and decency, and that there is truly good in all of us. Paddington chooses kindness over cruelty, selflessness over selfishness, and he knows we’re all capable of coming out on the right side of those choices. We simply have to choose to do good, and to actively pursue our best selves while we lift up and encourage those around us. A valuable lesson to learn, even if it has to come from a small, Peruvian bear cub. On this, its 60th anniversary in print, the ethos of Paddington is more relevant — and needed — than ever.

For more of IGN’s Paddington coverage, make sure to check out our review of Paddington 2, in which we say it “maintains the same level of heart and humor to become a truly unforgettable, lovely time at the theater.”


You can find Hannah on Twitter @hihello_hannah. This piece was also heavily contributed to by Elyse Willems.



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