During the month of January, I have gone to the movie theater twice. One of the films I saw is a delightful, charming, and heartwarming film about friendship, family, and loyalty; the other is a star-studded, Oscar-nominated “thrilling” drama that puts the audience to sleep in the first ten minutes (if not sooner).
Yep. Paddington 2 is a superior film to The Post in every single way. Fact.
Paddington 2 picks up where the first film left off: Paddington is happily settled with the Brown family and an essential part of the fabric of the community. Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday is quickly approaching, however, and Paddington has to work hard to buy her the perfect present: an antique pop-up book illustrating all the essential London landmarks. What Paddington doesn’t know, though, is that the pop-up book is actually a hidden treasure map, heavily coveted by washed-up actor Phoenix Buchanan (played to perfection by Hugh Grant). When Buchanan steals the book (in disguise, of course), Paddington is unjustly framed for the crime and sent to jail.
Yes. Paddington goes to jail! Gasp.
Poor Paddington. But Paddington, being Paddington, makes friends and improves jail-life for everyone: the uniforms become pink-tinged, bedtime stories are implemented, and there are orange marmalade sandwiches for everyone, even the hard-edged Mr. Knuckles!
Paddington 2 is better than the first Paddington (which is also charming and adorable), but it is most definitely better than a film that is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.
Rotten Tomatoes describes The Post as “a thrilling drama about the unlikely partnership between The Washington Post’s Katharine Graham (Streep), the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks), as they race to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned three decades and four U.S. Presidents. The two must overcome their differences as they risk their careers – and their very freedom – to help bring long-buried truths to light.” While that sounds promising, what that actually translates to on-screen is a very, very slow film with a minimal story and lackluster, underwhelming performances–including by the supposedly amazing Meryl Streep aka the most overrated, underwhelming actress ever.
Three-quarters of the film focuses on whether The Washington Post is going to secure The Pentagon Papers and scoop The New York Times. In the last quarter of the film, the papers are secured, and the debate on whether to publish them rages. It’s approximately 1000% less interesting than it sounds. All the President’s Men and Spotlight — two films that really showcase the tough grit, integrity, and relentlessness of journalists — it is not. Nothing is captivating or compelling, least of all the characters and the performers who bring them to “life.” Streep’s Graham is bland and lifeless; a somnambulant Jason Robards has more passion and believability as Ben Bradlee than Hanks can muster in two hours. I felt nothing for these characters or their dilemma. I was not moved to care, as interesting an example of media law The New York Times vs. The United States is. The only emotions I felt during the movie were agonizing boredom and relief when it finally ended. (I guess I also felt elation, early in the movie, when I spotted a movie poster for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — and subsequently I would feel longing for that kind of sophisticated, witty film-making.)
With the current state of affairs, I understand the urgency and importance of The Post, but it really is lacking in acting (supremely disappointing) and storytelling (even more disappointing). The film has no heart, plain and simple. While watching Paddington 2, however, I was drawn into Paddington’s world, full of concern and love for Paddington just as all the other characters are in the film. I laughed, I was on the edge of my seat, cheering for Paddington, and in the film’s final moments, my throat even constricted and I felt a tear or two or a thousand welling up. Heart.