What is a perfect film? A perfect film, to me, can be rewatched. It can teach you lessons at any age. It draws you in and makes you emotionally vulnerable. It breaks the tension with laughter. Paddington 2 is a perfect film.
Nicole Kidman does not return in the sequel to Paddington but, Hugh Grant takes over as villain. The rest of the cast remains mostly unchanged with a few more additions. This film had a 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes for a long time like Leave No Trace. It feels odd when you hear that fact, but once you finish your first watch it will all make sense.
Fred Rogers has made me cry, as have films about him. He is famously quoted telling kids to look for the people helping in terrible situations. His strict adherence to approaching all situations looking for the good in people and believing everyone has positive intent is a saint-like way to live. Paddington shares many of these same characteristics but in more mature situations.
Paddington ends up in jail for a crime he did not commit. He recognizes his situation and puts trust in his family to overturn his wrongful conviction. He also tries to make the best of his time in prison by making friends. He refuses to pre-judge anyone despite what other people tell him. Time and time again his faith in humanity proves to be the best path to follow and he collects friends along the way. These new friends reframe how they view the world, become more vulnerable and everyone becomes more friendly.
The visuals in the film progress with this lifting of the collective spirits of those in prison. A mishap with a red piece of clothing turns the prison uniforms pink. Slowly the prison transforms into a Wes Anderson-like set. The CGI remains some of the best I have seen with the human interaction with Paddington. There are plenty of cartoonish visual gags and general imagery that help keep a smile on your face.
Paddington 2 makes me tear up every time. I struggle to assume everyone is approaching me with positive intent. I build walls and pre-plan excuses for the actions of others, especially at work. I want to be more like Paddington and be more open. Each time I rewatch the film I come to the same conclusion that I should shift my thinking and slowly I am making progress but, there is still a long way to go. Paddington and recent Fred Rogers-centered films make me want to be a better person in similar ways. If we all shifted our behavior to one of more openness and recognized that everyone has a unique ability that can contribute to the collective good, we may all be in a better place. Am I putting too much thought into a children’s film? No, because Paddington 2 has a universal message that we all need to be reminded of from time to time.