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It takes a very special kind of bear to earn a 100% rating on the Tomatometer.

Since 1999, Toy Story 2 has held the “best-reviewed” crown on Rotten Tomatoes. 163 critics gave the film a “fresh” score, and it’s been standing at the top of the Tomatometer for 18 years. Now the top slot has been taken by another children’s franchise. 164 critics have given Paddington 2 a “fresh” score, beating even Buzz and Woody.

The Story of Paddington Bear

Children fell in love with Paddington when he was created by the late Michael Bond back in 1958. The character is rooted in the trauma of the Second World War, inspired by Bond’s experience seeing refugee newsreel footage. “Refugees are the saddest sight,” he observed. “I still think that.” So his creation Paddington Bear arrived as a refugee in London, originating from “Darkest Peru.”

As innocent and charming as Paddington may be, every detail of his story was shaped by the horrors of the war and the refugee crisis Bond saw around him. The bear traveled illegally into England, wearing a label inspired by those worn by refugees and evacuee children during the War. He became a close friend of Mr. Gruber, who was based on Bond’s first agent – a German Jew who fled to England from the Nazis.

In 2007, StudioCanal announced they were teaming up with Harry Potter producer David Heyman to create a Paddington Bear movie. Heyman understood just what made Bond’s beloved bear work. “Essentially,” he explained, “Paddington’s story is that of an immigrant arriving in London and trying to find a home and a family.”

Movie Still
[Credit: Warner Bros.]

Bringing Paddington to the Box Office

Critics adored the first Paddington film, which scored 98% on the Tomatometer. The first movie was released in 2014, written and directed by Paul King. It starred Ben Whishaw as Paddington, and essentially told the bear’s origin story. Nicole Kidman played the villain of the piece, a taxidermist who attempted to add Paddington to her collection.

The sequel didn’t perform as well as the first film, but it still grossed $180.2 million from a budget of $50 million. That didn’t change the critics’ opinion, though. They adored the film, with Guy Lodge of Variety declaring it to be “near pawfect family entertainment.” Paddington 2 blends the spirit of Bond’s original stories with the modern world, and the sequel even gets in a few jabs at contemporary British politics. Like all the best children’s films, it contains something for everyone – including the adults.

That’s brought Paddington 2 universal acclaim. To date, there still hasn’t been a single negative review.

Movie Still
[Credit: Warner Bros.]

What’s Next for Paddington Bear?

Studiocanal committed to a third Paddington movie even before filming had started on Paddington 2. Although the movie hasn’t accrued the profits Warner Bros. saw with the first film, Heyman and director Paul King seem to be in agreemen on their desire to turn this into a trilogy. Unfortunately, Heyman views King as essential to the film’s success, and the director has other projects in the works. “It would be a great shame to let go of Paddington,” he told Digital Spy, “but there are also other things it would be nice to do.”

The reality is that Paddington is a wonderful antidote to the broken world we see on the news every day. Although he’s rooted in tragedy, Paddington is a charming character like no other in fiction. King described him as “a big Christmassy hug or a cup of hot chocolate.”

It’s hard to disagree with King’s assessment. Audiences and critics are falling in love with the refugee bear from Peru, and viewers will certainly hope they’ll see a third film. In the meantime, though, Paddington can proudly take his place in Hollywood’s hall of fame – as the top scorer on Rotten Tomatoes.