A grounded, gorgeous contemporary fantasy about the connections between parent and child, of inner child and outer adult, of mother and daughter. I won’t pretend to be the best person to speak with any authority on the themes of motherhood at play here, but what I will say is that Céline Sciamma once again elevates a simple premise with substantial emotion and tight storytelling.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “If I met my mother’s younger self, I would probably have just talked to her about my Pokemon cards.”
Like the brand to which these characters are inextricably tied, it’s all a bit much. It’s a buffoonish comedy of errors, a family drama, a sort of mystical journey, and even more movies rolled into one. The weirder it gets the better, but it never allows itself to veer too far into the bizarre so it’s often stuck in family drama mode. The performances are all top-notch and even charming, especially Lady Gaga’s as an individual with a dangerous combo of unfettered drive and pride.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Jared Leto and Al Pacino put in amazing, sympathetic performances as Waluigi and Wario.”
“If this was a movie, this would be the part where the villain’s plan suffers a setback.”
The Fast and the Furious movies are just big ol live action anime mecha movies now with cars instead of giant robots. Tyrese is questioning whether or not they’re all invincible superheroes during the entire movie, but they’re not. They’re all just anime characters in a mecha movie, going through the dramatic motions until it’s time for the next big set piece when they can suit up and hop into their giant robots/cars to do impossible stunts while chasing some increasingly sci-fi macguffin or something. Plus family.
Fast10 better have a laser sword.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Flashbacks to 1989 throughout the movie explore Dom’s father’s death and its effect on the Toretto FAMILY. The actor playing Dom’s father has a similar SoCal accent to the late Paul Walker, which suggests to me that Dom saw and heard a bit of his father in Brian when they met all those years ago and that helped build his trust in Brian. These movies have layers, okay?”
“Who would have thought a tech company didn’t have our best interests at heart?”
The animation techniques honed in Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse are let loose and used to tell the frantic, heartfelt story of a chaotic cartoon family against the machinations of a Mark Zuckerberg stand-in. In terms of energy, it feels like the next evolution or step up from the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movies, which are both classics in my book of modern movies that most people don’t think (and probably aren’t, actually) classics but I like quite a bit.
This, however, feels destined to be an actual classic whose legacy may only be hampered by the relatively tame marketing push and it just being dropped on Netflix instead of having a meaningful theatrical run. Having to watch a film with blink-and-you-miss-it visual flourishes on a TV really made me long for the big screen and the togetherness theater experience and all that. But that’s hardly the movie’s fault! The film is a kinetic, hilarious techno journey into a sugar-addled Asimovian not-too-distant-future with the requisite (and fairly progressive) family component to bring the emotion.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “There is a particular scene in this that has been making the rounds on the interweb involving a deadly Furby colossus spouting eldritch phrases, which is why it is my favorite film of the year. If I say something else is my favorite film of the year in December 2021 or something, don’t listen to Future Nick. That asshole doesn’t know what he’s talking about and he’s an old person who’s out of touch with everything. His time is over and he doesn’t even realize it yet. I, on the other hand, am young. I am important.”
This is the most charmed I’ve been by a movie since Hugo way back in 2011. Paddington 2 shares a distinct love of wonder and sheer entertainment with Hugo, as well as the visual craft that goes into every marmalade slathered frame. It also shares a nearly idyllic version of its splendorous setting, where it feels like the worst thing happening in the world is quite possibly a dissociative Hugh Grant stealing a pop-up book. Prison is an amazing place in a Wes Andersen sort of way, criminals are lovable and merely gruff or roguish, and most everyone has the capacity for self-awareness and change. I want to live in this world.
My VHS cover pull quote: “One of the most substantial and timely things this movie does is keep the Peruvian bear intact as a stand-in for immigration by way of Peter Capaldi’s Mr. Creary and his unfounded fear of the adorable Paddington. Dynamite!”
I remember–in the Before Times–when these movies that have somehow been a constant in my life were about street racing.
My VHS cover pull quote: “New career plan: get a PhD in film studies. Write dissertation focusing on the trajectory of Universal’s Fast and the Furious franchise. Chart its course from hollow street race flicks, to halfway clever heist movies that almost have a theme and care enough about character and reverence to pull bro tears from bro sockets, to a straight up comic book superhero picture that just does whatever the fuck it wants. Get tenure. Bring in guest lecturer Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Bring in guest lecturer Vin Diesel on the same day by ‘accident’ so we can get to the bottom of this on-set beef. Bring in Vince McMahon. Oh shit, bring in Stone Cold Steve Austin. Here comes The Undertaker out of retirement!”