Paddington - An Antidote for A Time that has Forgotten Its Manners


The news has been bumming me out lately. For some reason, we seem to be in some strange upswing of people who suddenly feel perfectly fine being horrible and rude to others. I don't have a great antidote to how to make it better for everyone. However, I know how to make it better for myself: Paddington! 

In 2014, StudioCanale released Paddington, a film version of the beloved fictional bear and his family by author Michael Bond. It was a wonderful story, taking place in a fairy tale version of London w/ our eponymous character showing that there is a place for manners and politeness in our interactions. What makes it fun is that Paddington was a hopelessly inept guest, making messes, using human toothbrushes as ear cleaners, sailing a bathtub from a third story bathroom down the circular staircase, all the while tipping his floppy red hat as he goes by and asks “how are you?”

 Paddington was a huge hit in our family when it came out and a few months ago we finally got the opportunity to see the sequel, Paddington 2. Where the original was centered around the idea of what makes a “family”, Paddington extends the idea to what makes a community truly function. In Paddington 2, the small community street of Windsor Gardens is brought together by small bear, who functions like the grease that keeps everyone from his neighbor who always forgets his keys to the garbageman who is studying to be a London taxi driver interacting and working together, largely by his mastery of social graces. 

The plots of both films are relatively straightforward, the bad people are bad, but not terrible, the good people can be conflicted but you know they will find their way in the end. But it is the small moments of decency by the various characters that cause the movies to really shine. More to the point, it is the many signs of respect that this small bear from the darkest Peru gives to everyone around him that makes it so nice. 

“Aunt Lucy said that if we’re kind and polite, the world will be right.”- Paddington

In our world where too many people seem determined to show their worst, it seems silly that I would find solace in a computer-generated fictional bear. But, sometimes, you have to take the proper example where you can find it.