Paddington – Baby’s First Wes Anderson Film


“I want adventure…” “Gone!
It’s all gone” “Such wonderful things could be bad” “You and I are a team.
Nothing is more important than our friendship.” Pixar and Disney have spoilt us. Most kids films aren’t great.
Content, story or cinematically speaking. Poorly made fluff focusing on lowest-common-denominator humour. Simple plotting.
Needless celebrity voiceovers. “Cookies are for closers” and an overuse of meaningless slow-mo. What makes it worse is a good proportion
are based on nostalgic IPs: your Smurfs, Scooby-Doos or Garfields. So not only are they poor quality films,
they’re trashing your childhood. Most reviews for these films have the disclaimer “harmless fun for the kids, tedious for adults.” And on the face of it: who cares? They are children, under develop minds who won’t realise that these films are woefully sub-par. They don’t know the difference,
they haven’t seen any films yet. But here’s the thing why not push the genre make something that looks decent,
has some depth, is actually in love with the medium of cinema? Why not create a child classic? Enter 2014’s Paddington Paddington was directed by Paul King, mainly known for his work on cult British comedy show, The Mighty Boosh. The whole look of the Mighty Boosh featured a lot of felt, foil, construction paper and polos for some reason. Basically you could call “storybook chic.” Though airing post watershed on BBC3 implied that was not a kid show its aesthetic wouldn’t look our place on CBBC. In essence Paddington is a story about family; a dysfunctional family with an adoptive CGI bear son. A modern director who really nails this
whole dynamic is Wes Anderson. From the Royal Tenenbaums to Moonrise
Kingdom through The Life Aquatic. Visually at least Anderson would be the
go-to guy if you were making a kid’s film that is if he didn’t dwell on
broken and unhappy people quite so much. As much as depression, suicide and
romantic betrayal are a part of life they aren’t exactly child-friendly. King takes the stylistic elements of Anderson’s work: the symmetrical framing, the twinkling soundtrack and the pastel colors and infuses them with unadulterated joy. Paddington’s not gonna slit his wrists
to Elliott Smith but that doesn’t mean there’s not a tragicomedy bathroom scene. The most Anderson inspired sequences are Paddington’s descriptions of his new family,
the Browns, consisting of short vignettes about his newly acquired
family and their ultra-production-designed house. With its ghostly lateral dollies
and one-shot perspectives it recalls The Life Aquatic’s getting-to-know-you sequences. We know everything we need to know about these people not just by the content of the narration
but what their rooms consist of. The essence of their characters boiled down to their possessions and living spaces. Lucy the photographer,
Jonathan the science whiz Mrs. Brown the children’s illustrator. and in a way the whole film’s visuals are an extension of her profession. Anderson’s stories are dressed up like children’s books due to the characters never truly growing up, The contrast between this and the candied visuals is what makes Anderson truly interesting. Paddington being a child’s film and
therefore less into the whole depression thing really only uses the one-point
perspective when things are going well when he’s found his new home, making new friends, he’s learning about his new family. When things are less storybook and
comparatively low in mood the colors get bluer and the framing gets
a lot more isometric and while Anderson is definitely an influence there are bits and pieces taken from elsewhere. In Paddington’s the slapstick there is a deep sense of innocence and naive mischief that recalls the best of Chaplin. Also with the glorified pleasantness
of a grimy capital city and the touches of sweet magic realism,
Amelie seems like a clear calling point. The elephant in the room is Fantastic Mr. Fox,
Wes Anderson’s own kids film. Surely Baby’s First Wes Anderson film
should be that one? But I think unlike Paddington half the film is impenetrable to its supposed target audience. With themes of not living up to your father’s reputation, not being the man you expected to be, as well as the violent imagery and constant cussing. “Are you cussing with me?”
“No, you cussing with me?” Fantastic Mr. Fox is probably left for the more existential teen years, before moving on to consume
Rushmore and Moonrise Kingdom. Essentially Paddington is still a kids film. Cute characters, low-stakes plotting and an over-reliance on slapstick and slow-motion. This is not Fellini or Bergman but still different
and brave enough to bear mentioning. And the recently released sequel, which really
hammers home The Grand Budapest love, is even better. You know how there’s a list of books that most kids should have read before adulthood? Y’know Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, 1984 the building blocks of
learning about literature. In 2004 the British Film Institute
made a similar list of movies. The 50 films You Should See By The Age of 14. The first steps of cinematic appreciation. These films range from Georges Méliès’
A Trip To The Moon to Finding Nemo. Films about love, loss, death, sexuality, racism, cultures, about fitting in and sticking out, fairy stories and morality tales by great auteurs. A crash course in how a film is shaped and shot. The grammar and punctuation of cinema. Paddington and its sequel show all these things while giving a manageable smattering of Anderson’s influences. It’s not just the delivery system for fart jokes and instantly dated pop culture but well composed, constructed and, most importantly, heartwarming tale of a golden-hearted bear. Paddington should be every
preteen film snob’s favourite film. “Oh look Henry, it’s perfect!”

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31 thoughts on “Paddington – Baby’s First Wes Anderson Film

  1. Great job with this! This caught my eye on Reddit, as I'm a huge Paddington fan and recently made my own video on the film. Keep up the great work!

  2. How do you only have 188 subscribers? This video was amazing! I touched on Wes Anderson on my review, but I don't do cool video essays like you. Honestly, there aren't many video essays I like. I hate most of them. This was amazing.

  3. Great video. I love Wes Andersen and only saw Paddington recently and was struck by the stylistic influence. Going to Paddington 2 this weekend even though I don't have a kid to take because a great film is a great film at any age.

  4. just discovered your vid off of my recommendations [from the "isle of dogs" trailer + interviews]
    really great stuff man. Subbed and am looking forward to more essays from you in the future.

  5. Plz don’t start off review with a negative aim like that, just make that shorter plz. You’re giving us information anyone who is watching this would already know. The start of this video is like “open your eyes” thank you we know

  6. That was lovely, informative, and insightful. I dabbled in video and movie making myself, and I believe that your video was clear and also very enjoyable. Kudos!

  7. I would love an essay on agency in films with examples of the importance and unimportant nature in some films. You have quite the knack for narrowing down the focus and theme quickly. I respect your craft and hope you find wide success.

  8. Whem I originally watched Paddington, I was expecting the movie to be another low-effort book adaption to cash in on kids and parents. I was overjoyed to see it was constructed by someone who really seemed to care about the characters and story!

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