Apparently, I missed hearing about this movie when it first came out in 2014. I’d never heard of it until we stumbled upon it on Netflix one day while looking for a family movie we could watch together with our toddler.
Now I usually assume, if I haven’t heard of a family-friendly movie but find it on Netflix, that’s it’s not going to be very good. Because there are plenty of poorly written, poorly acted, all around lame options available particularly in the family category. We pretty much expected this to be one of those but for some reason decided to give it a try anyway.
Definitely Not Lame
That’s a huge understatement. Because actually, it was surprisingly awesome.
We didn’t expect it to be legitimately funny, often hilarious. I certainly didn’t expect it to be well-done and compelling, but it was that as well, not to mention cute and a little heartwarming – and it’s really saying something that I thought it cute or heartwarming, considering that I tend to kind of hate anything with animals or “pets are so awesome” themes. But then, this is a bit different from your average animal movie…
Maybe you’re familiar with the Paddington Bear children’s books. I’ve never actually read them, but apparently this movie is based loosely upon the books, not exactly a screen adaptation of any particular story they featured.
Instead, it’s a story of a young bear from Peru, with an interesting back-story about why he can speak English and loves marmalade. He sets out to England in search of a “proper home” for himself, and a random family ends up taking him in temporarily. Then follows some shenanigans as he adjusts to human life, and as the family attempts to track down an explorer that he once met, while meanwhile someone with a sinister purpose is trying to track the bear down.
It’s rated PG and I would call it pretty clean, but there are a couple brief concerns:
There is some action and peril that some kids could find a little frightening, but nothing too intense.
There’s a brief reference to skinny dipping, and also a throwaway line from younger brother to older teenage sister about how she probably wouldn’t mind “bunking” with a particular guy she is romantically interested in.
And then there’s a scene in which the father dresses up as a cleaning woman in order to sneak in somewhere and look at some records with Paddington. There is a man who tries to flirt with the cross-dressed dad (thinking him actually a woman) and the scene does go on for a bit. It’s mostly just good fun and once upon a time would hardly be worth mentioning, but in our current cultural climate it could end up raising questions from some curious kids.
It’s fun and cute and pretty clean. And in fact, it’s actually even good enough that I was willing to re-watch it with my toddler when we were searching for a good movie on Netflix the other night. I’m honestly not quite sure why I hadn’t heard of it, because it’s good enough that I would think it should be quite popular.