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Paddington 2


‘…the charm is entirely missing from the two Paddington films….’

When I was five, my mother took me to see a statue of Peter Pan in London; I was excited to see the character I knew well from Disney comics, dressed in green, with the glowing light of Tinkerbell by his side. Londoners and JM Barrie fans will know in advance that the rather drab-looking statue doesn’t look like that at all; ‘That’s not my Peter Pan’ I told my mother, and I was right. So when it was announced that Paddington Bear, another much beloved fixture of my childhood, was getting a make-over, I shivered at the prospect; what would they do to my beloved bear?

To backtrack, Michael Bond’s Paddington was part of a wave of stories designed to help kids understand the multi-cultural make-up of society. Hailing from ‘darkest Peru’. Paddington is an immigrant to these shores, even if it seems in his nature to integrate and to ingratiate himself with the members of the British public Paddington meets. He writes letters home to his Aunt Lucy to tell her of the fun he’s having in his adoptive home. In the tv shows, it’s notable that Paddington’s voice is also that of the narrator (Michael Horden) and also of the other characters, who (almost) all accept the bear as a new and welcome addition to their lives. In the film version, Paddington is voiced by Ben Wishaw and sounds like a member of some indie-pop band coming down from an agonising ketamine high, and that’s just the start of what’s wrong in Paul King’s film.

Paddington’s adventures are traditionally small scale; putting up some wallpaper or fixing a tap. The Paddington movies see him going to jail, organising a prison break or running along the roofs of moving trains like Indiana Jones; that ain’t my Paddington Bear to be sure. Instead of the button eyes and cheerful demeanour, this Paddington has evil, beady eyes and ratty fur; the charm is entirely missing from the two Paddington films. The actual Paddington can be seen below.

For Paddington 2, a few choice elements are added to shore things up; Hugh Grant sends up himself and his profession as a self-regarding actor, and even has a song and dance number from prison in the final scene. All well and good, but nothing really to do with Paddington, and the same can be said for the plot, lifted from Theatre of Blood. Considerations of race and identity, key to the Paddington character, are not addressed, and the situations that this Paddington finds himself in are contrived and ridiculous; it simply shouldn’t happen to a bear.

I reviewed Paddington 2 negatively for BBC radio on release in 2017, and on multiple occasions after that, and I stand by every word of my criticism. This is not my Paddington Bear, but a sinister, malevolent imposter who should be shot into space, or nuked from space at the first opportunity. Over-confident, snide and sullen, this manky-looking bear bears little relation to the classic character, and viewers should be warned; this ain’t yo mamma’s Paddington bear, and it won’t be yours either. Maybe if you’ve never seen the tv show and don’t know any better, this’ll work, but long-term Paddington fans will find this too much to bear.


  1. I actually like the new Paddington, even though I read Bond’s novels as a child. I guess nostalgia factors heavily here (btw, I absolutely prefer Barrie’s Peter Pan to Disney! (shudders)) 😉

  2. I hope you’re fucking proud of yourself, you fucking hack, you ruined one of the few good things left unspoiled in this world. Literally nobody else will give a crap about you or your crappy scribblings EXCEPT for ruining Paddington 2’s perfection image.

  3. Word is that you gave positive reviews to notoriously bad films like Johnny Mnemonic, Ice Age: Collision Course and Dumb and Dumber To (the sequel to the classic Jim Carrey film).

    So in your eyes Padddington 2 is worse than the previously mentioned films?

    Don’t agree with that opinion but whatever, you do you.

  4. Good for you for ruining a movie’s rating. I’m all for that kind of thing. Most movies deserve worse ratings than the unthinking, puerile public gives them.

    Good job on NOT being part of the puerile public on this movie….

    • Look at the old Paddington. Look at the new one. Which is best? Discuss.

        • Old way way better. More personable, not with dead-behind-the-eyes CGI features. Not in contrived Hollywood adventures but just domestic mishaps. No need for Hugh Grant or crashing trains, just good old Paddington.

          • I’m concerned for you. A number of reasons. One: you think old Padd is better than new. He nearly drowned! Do you have no empathy?

            Two: you making waves on Rotten Tomatoes has surely got to be feeding into your megalomania. This could be a long weekend.

  5. Your review torpedoed “Paddington’s” perfect rating. Nice. Looks like it’s not better than “Citizen Kane” any more, merely… just as good as “Kane”? That still don’t soud quite right. Sing ho for the life of a bear, I guess.

    • Good luck to little bears, but if this was rated higher than Citizen Kane, then maybe Paddington was due for a fall. It’s a decent enough family film with a few points of interest, but not a patch on the classic tv show. Five minutes of the BBc version is worth the whole two movies put together.

  6. i respect your opinion, and your right to have and share your opinion. however ruining paddington’s 100% rating on rotten tomatoes is a crime that cannot be forgiven

    • If it’s a crime, then I’m guilty as charged. But I’ll never love this Paddington the way I loved the old model. I’m not alone in this view either, it’s quite a divisive film, so I’m surprised it would get such a high rating in the first place.

  7. Oh nopety nopety nopety nope. I loved original Paddington and his voice was precious, I will not sully my eyes with these preposterous fakes.

    • Whew! This is the correct answer, this imposter is fake news and an imposter. Don’t follow the herd!

  8. Wow, you are swimming against the tide on this one but I respect you for it. This is clearly your opinion and while I don’t feel the same way I can see some of your points. I agree that the scrapes Paddington gets into in his two big screen outings are more akin to Mission Impossible than a mission to put up wallpaper or bake a cake which is the worst he had to face in the books. I made similar points in my review of the first film.

    • It could well be you and me against the world. I don’t get how people are so protective of other characters, but seem happy for Paddington to be so outlandishly altered. I get that a more complex story than just mishaps is required, but the whole actors revenge thing is nothing something that should be in a Paddington universe. He’s sidelined in his own film. Thanks for the solidarity! Will check out your review.

        • Liked the second one a lot more than the first, but the things I liked were not much to do with the bear. He’s been depoliticized and turned into some kind of action figure when his charm is largely due to his cheery lack of competence. Not many seem to have the same issues, I’ll admit. But a dissenting voice is still a voice.

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