Saturday, 26 January 2013

Paddington Bear: time for a gritty reboot

Apparently teh intarwebz are all awash with people who think there's something far too foreboding about the poster for the new Paddington the Bear movie, which is allegedly far too like the poster for The Exorcist. 

I agree, the resemblance is uncanny. To the left, a shadowy figure in a hat and carrying a suitcase; to the right, his mirror image, both of them staring into a dazzling light which makes their destination hard to perceive. This is dark stuff for the juvenile audience to take in, the whole notion of their marmalade loving stuffed toy somehow taking on the forces of Lucifer his own bad self, though it's from the producers of Harry Potter, so the idea of taking on the forces of ultimate evil while surrounded by magic and special effects isn't going to come as a complete shock to the audience, now is it?

And everything is getting gritty reboots these days. Surely it's Paddington's moment. We all want to see the heroes of our childhoods reimagined so that they're as messed up and fed up as we are. We've suffered, now it's Teddy's turn. Yet I don't think we have to turn to possession and the workings of the dark lord to give Paddington the gritty reboot he so needs, not to mention that I'm just not ready to watch firehoses of marmalade being vomited all around the place. Paddington's already got a rich backstory that we can use to refashion him into the dark and tormented anti-hero our generation craves.

This, I'll remind you, is a mysterious bear who appears out of nowhere from - allegedly - Peru, carrying a mysterious suitcase and addressing everyone as Sir. A small, overly formal figure in a hat and a long coat, from South America, with a suitcase from which literally anything might appear. He immediately adopts a pseudonym and settles into deep cover with an ordinary family. Who is he really? How did he appear at a key piece of public transportation infrastructure? What is he fleeing from? Above all, what's in the case?

Is Paddington an assassin, setting up some ultimate act of violence in the shrunken Empire's capital?

Is he a drug kingpin, ready to peddle the contents of his case for untold millions?

A junta torturer from some nameless banana republic just pretending to be a harmless Peruvian teddy bear, his case full of dental tools?

Or is he a fleeing Nazi war criminal, one step ahead of the Mossad, for whom the jungles of Peru weren't sanctuary enough?

Suddenly, I can't wait for 2014….

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