21 Aug

Paddington 2

“If you’re kind and polite, the world will be right.”

– Aunt Lucy

We probably don’t need to explain the banner at the top anymore, but time is ever progressing and another rotation around the sun means it is time for Ben to submit a new entry into the Birthday Super Munch canon and, through writing, take you on a journey through our menu and thoughts on the film. Previous movies he has anointed with this title have been: Cloverfield, Beginners, and Columbus. And now, the wonderful and lovable Paddington 2 gets its time to shine in the spotlight.

Before I (Ben) get too far into the menu and any thoughts I may have on the film itself, I need to clear up a few things about this film. The first is that every one of you falls into one of two camps: you have either watched Paddington and Paddington 2 already, or you will before the end of the month is up. I am sorry. I will not accept any compromising on the matter. Expecting to get updates from all of you that haven’t seen either of them yet that you have watched both of the films prior to August 31, 2019, 11:59 PDT. Times ticking.

I simply can’t accept that there are people out there who would be able to ignore or be impervious to the infectious humor, delight, and love that are woven into each and every frame of these films. In addition, the themes of family (perhaps a chosen one at that), finding hope in adversity, and being loved or finding love are most likely touch everybody, and there is a high probability that it will resonate with you.

With that being said, for those who are, unacceptably, unfamiliar, there are really only a few things you need to know about Paddington:

  1. He loves marmalade.
  2. He genuinely wants to help out and be good.
  3. His insistence of point #2 means he gets into a lot of sticky situations.

While we could have written about all of the points above, ultimately point #1 decided our entire menu (and I will get to point #2 later).

Given that Paddington seems to survive perhaps almost entirely on marmalade or marmalade sandwiches (with the occasional pot of tea or sweet treat thrown in), we decided to create what we are effectively calling the Paddington Diet. Fortunately, the Paddington Diet is full of joy and bucks the ideals “diet culture” by being built on in place of love and acceptance. So, what is the Paddington Diet? It is really pretty simple to follow and entirely up to you as to when you want to follow it, but it does require marmalade. Lots and lots of marmalade.

We made our own marmalade for the freshest and most flavorful experience, and so that we could have the confidence that no matter what we put it into it, it would be delicious. This required soaking the oranges and rinds in water overnight, adding copious amounts of sugar, and cooking it down until we were absolutely positive, through some alchemical reaction, had made honey. With the marmalade made, we could now put it on anything we wanted. Up first: sandwiches.

The marmalade sandwich is a common trope in the Paddington films, and while we didn’t go as far as to hide it underneath a hat on our heads (which I am sure provides a certain added saltiness and warmth), we did go ahead and make our own white bread. The result was the most delicious, pastry-like experience that absolutely convinced us why Paddington always keeps one around, even sneaking one into prison. The next day I snuck my own marmalade sandwich into my viewing of The Farewell and I had to lie to myself that that sandwich wasn’t actually gone.

We are playing a little fast and loose with the typical meal components here, and I feel like that is an important point to bring up in regards to any meals created around the Paddington Diet. Is a marmalade sandwich an appetizer? In the Paddington Diet, it is. Could it also be an entree? Absolutely. But fortunately, we had our own tricks for the entree…

Ginger marmalade-glazed rack of lamb.

Just going to let that be its own paragraph because, honestly, that alone should be enough. But I see you need a little convincing. What if I told you we used a sous vide cooking process with the lamb and marmalade, and then put a quick sear on it with the grill. The result? Something Paddington would write home to Aunt Lucy about even though I am not entirely positive he eats meat.

I may have conveniently left out that a lot of Paddington revolves around London and Britain, and that Paddington has perhaps a perfect British accent and that quintessential British-ness meant we had to do something that our very American minds think is British: tea cookies. TeaTime Magazine had our backs, and we made very tasty orange marmalade thumbprint cookies that had the right amount of salt, the right amount of zest, and the perfect sweetness of the marmalade (pronounced “ma-ma-laid” by the actors in the movie).

We close out every meal with a drink of some sort, and given my increased interest in making craft cocktails in 2019, it was fun to add a relatively new ingredient to my repertoire in the form of jams. With that ingredient, we made the appropriately named cocktail Paddington to close out the meal. Mixing the nice herbal qualities in Absinthe with rum, Lillet Blanc, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, and the marmalade made the perfect cocktail for this movie to close out this meal.

Immersing myself in the perfect world of Paddington 2

It would be easy to ignore the world built up around Paddington. After all, the film isn’t called The Kind and Polite Times of London Town. But it is the world created in these films that helps sell the idea of a talking bear left on a platform, found, raised, and accepted by a human family. And in Paddington 2, it is the world that ends up turning around and supporting Paddington.

The beginning of Paddington 2 paints a wonderful picture of the world he inhabits. As he heads off into the city, we are introduced to his wonderful and diverse neighborhood that supports and looks out for each other. Through being interested in each other’s lives, providing transport to a destination, and genuinely wanting the best for each person, we get a sense of how this world works and operates. This sense of community is seen again and again in the film and it seems to be a core tenet of what makes Paddington 2 so great.

It is with no surprise that this fictional world is massively appealing given the seemingly global rise of fascism and the encroaching doom of our species. All of which creates a nice cocktail of anxiety and depression. Immersing myself in a world that is supportive, happy, helpful, and kind provides a welcome respite from the anxiety storm.

We all have “places” where we go to soothe our souls. The warmth of friends, a well-read book, or the comforting routine of cooking. Schitt’s Creek, in which homophobia isn’t present, and Bob’s Burgers, where trueness to oneself is consistently on display and is supported by the family and community members, are worlds where I find myself returning to again and again when that anxious pit in my stomach grows along my spine, reaching my mind.

Sure, this could be called escapism to a certain extent, but I much prefer that to the alternative.

What I find most of all is that seeing these worlds feels like a blueprint of some sort. The ability to envision a world that is like ours, but kinder, queerer, with the capacity to be unique and allowing you to be a little more yourself, energizes me. It reminds me that there is value in being kind, that it is okay to make mistakes, and that we are stronger when we embrace and celebrate our inherent differences.

Perhaps the greatest thing that Paddington 2 did was to provide the energy and a clear path to being kind, polite, and gentle in a world that doesn’t always reward those values.

The Reviews

André: Better every time. This is definitely a comfort movie, in that you can watch it multiple times and still feel a wave of comfort wrap around you like a big bear hug. It’s heartfelt, and at the same time surprisingly funny. I definitely hesitated on this movie for a while and wasn’t sure why Ben was so into it but now that I’ve seen it a few times, I know where he’s coming from.

Leanna: This movie is as sweet as marmalade. I think Ben pretty much summed it all up, so instead of writing a review, I’m going to use my time to apologize to Ben for it taking us so long to watch this movie. I’M SORRY. For literally months Ben harped on us for not watching. My expectations totally got built up because of this, so it is truly a testament to the quality of this film that I loved it so much. Both Paddington and Paddington 2 had the odd effect of getting me to cry from happiness. Don’t be one of those people who haven’t seen Paddington 2. Watch it before its too late!

Ben: 100%. I wouldn’t have chosen this film if it wasn’t one of my favorites, but watching it and laughing during it with André and Leanna was a wonderful experience, and I am so glad I chose it for my Birthday Super Munch. This is a perfect film in my mind, and it is so rare for a film like this to be so genuine and be able to pull it off with out it feeling overwrought or preachy. Thank you Paddington.