For decades, the greatest film of all time was Citizen Kane. Then it lost its perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes due to a bad review — not even a new bad review, but an old one, from when it was released in 1941. So cinema’s finest accomplishment was now obviously Paddington 2. Why? Because, unlike Orson Welles’ ceaselessly inventive masterpiece, it had was 100% fresh on an internet review aggregation site. And because people really liked this nice movie about a kind talking bear who’s a fount of decency in a cruel and uncaring world.
But no more. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a new negative review has been filed to Rotten Tomatoes. The pan comes from Film Academy’s Eddie Harrison, and for the record it’s not a mere piece of trolling, and it’s even thoughtful and well-written. His argument is that the movies betray the original Michael Bond creation. He talks about it being a “beloved fixture of my childhood,” but he also contextualizes it in history. Being the misadventures of an immigrant from Peru, they were, he says, initially “part of a wave of stories designed to help kids understand the multi-cultural make-up of society.”
They were also intentionally very modest. “Paddington’s adventures are traditionally small scale; putting up some wallpaper or fixing a tap,” Harrison writes. “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.”
He goes on to call the Ben Whishaw-voiced Paddington “over-confident, snide and sullen,” as well as “manky-looking.” He concludes that he’s a “sinister, malevolent imposter who should be shot into space, or nuked from space at the first opportunity.”
Fair enough! The world would be a very boring place if we all agreed on everything, including movies with an excellent villainous Hugh Grant. Paddington 2’s reign as the greatest film of all time — an honor it only achieved semi-jokingly anyway — was brief, but even with “only” 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s still in august company. In fact, it’s right up there with Citizen Kane.