Making a family movie with elements that appeal to both children and adults is a tricky endeavor that 2014's PADDINGTON accomplished masterfully. The film captivated audiences all around the world and became a box office hit, earning $268 million at the global box office. That success opened the door for a sequel, PADDINGTON 2, which is due to be released in the United States on January 12.
The new story centers around the bear Paddington finding the perfect birthday gift for his aunt Lucy: a pop-up book of London. Given how he doesn't have enough money to buy the item (because, you know, he's a bear), he starts saving up for it. Unfortunately, the book is stolen right before he can make his purchase. Paddington is blamed for the theft and sent to prison, kickstarting another whacky adventure.
With the film being right around the corner, it's worth asking: what made the furry fella's first big screen adventure so enduring for audiences of all ages?
PADDINGTON Made Kid-Friendly Ideas Attractive For All
There's an interesting dynamic with a lot of kid-friendly films. They're often filled with goofy and unrealistic plot points and characters. Given the target demographic, however, adults look past those elements. That wasn't the case with PADDINGTON, though. It was a children's story through and through, but one that took advantage of its kid-friendly elements by embracing them and playing them up.
This was clear from the very beginning of the film, as Montgomery Clyde –– the explorer who discovered Paddington's family –– is shown having people carrying around his "travel piano" throughout his expedition. There's also Paddington himself, and the fact that pretty much no one seemed bothered or surprised about a talking bear roaming around the streets of London with suitcase in paw.
Of course, it's almost impossible to discuss the first movie's self-conscious humor without its greatest example: Millicent Clyde, the story's main baddie, played wonderfully by Nicole Kidman. Kidman's ill-intentioned taxidermist was, for all intents and purposes, a cartoon villain. Having a character like that carries its fair amount of risks, but she worked because the movie embraced her cartoonish nature. It didn't try to make us think Clyde was real, but also didn't undermine the threat she posed to the characters.
That constant and clever self-aware humor was one of the aspects that made PADDINGTON such an enjoyable movie. As Kidman herself explained during an interview with Fandango: “I think that the humor works for adults and for children and I was so lucky to see it actually at the premiere [...] It was like a party in there. That's really intoxicating and I think, as a parent, it's just so much fun to be able to take your kids and go 'Ah!'”
PADDINGTON 2 Is Following The Same Direction As Its Predecessor
Fortunately for fans of the cuddly bear, PADDINGTON 2 (directed, like the first film, by Paul King) follows in the footsteps of its predecessor. In his review of the film, Empire's Olly Richards stated that the highly-anticipated sequel successfully carries over the tone of the first film, becoming yet another fun ride for both children and adults:
“Paul King should be forbidden from ever passing the series to another director because he has such a well-tuned sense of Paddington's tone. It's cute, but not twee. It's for all ages, but jokes aren't divided into kid-friendly and 'for the grown-ups.' It mostly makes fun of circumstances, not people. There's so much warmth to it and not a hint of cruelty. There are wonderful sequences of physical comedy [...] King's visual comic timing is impeccable. He never oversells.”
During an interview with Digital Spy, producer David Heyman revealed that the PADDINGTON series is expected to continue with PADDINGTON 3. Nothing is set in stone just yet, but the hope is for the next chapter to be helmed once again by Paul King. Going by how well the franchise has been handled under his watch, the cuddly bear has a bright big screen future ahead of himself.
You'll get to catch up with PADDINGTON and his whacky adventures when his sequel hits theaters in the United States on January 12, 2018.