Everyone loves Paddington 2, the sequel to Paddington, which is an adaptation of a beloved children’s book about a marmalade-loving bear who moves to foggy London. I have not had the pleasure of seeing Paddington 2 yet, but I have watched the trailer around 32 times because I find it truly remarkable. The trailer reveals that the main plot line of this movie, for small children, is literally that a community outsider—in this case, a talking stuffed bear—is wrongfully incarcerated. While plenty of children’s movies deal with heavy themes, Paddington 2’s straightforward emphasis on a very adult and terrifying circumstance seems like it would not work in a lighthearted film for the extremely young. And yet, as far as I can tell, it does work, because the movie is getting dynamite reviews.
This unexpected mashup of a cherished children’s book and a real and pressing adult social problem has led me to believe the Paddington 2 creators have stumbled upon fertile creative ground. And as Hollywood loves nothing more than excavating fertile creative ground until it is completely tapped out, I’d like to suggest some films inspired by Paddington 2’s incongruous but effective formula of children’s classic + hot-topic social issue:
Goodnight Moon: Pollution gets so bad we can’t see the moon anymore.
The Wind in the Willows: Stress induced by Brexit makes Toad act erratically, but his friends help him join a meditation circle.
Rainbow Fish: Rainbow Fish (played by Jeremy Piven) raises awareness of mercury poisoning.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: A group of tweens tries to influence the president away from accelerating the global nuclear arms race by trying to create a viral dance craze about surviving a bomb.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: It’s tax day and Alexander, a successful but reckless YouTube star, has played it fast and loose with the IRS for way too long.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?: Brown bear witnesses his boss stealing office supplies and must decide whether to stay silent or speak up.
Caps for Sale: The peddler selling the caps gets indicted in a Ponzi scheme.
The Velveteen Rabbit: The Velveteen Rabbit’s child owner gets the measles because her parents are anti-vaxxers.
Where the Sidewalk Ends: A searing look at how communities suffer when local infrastructure is not properly prioritized.
Blueberries for Sal: Sal takes on the pesticide industry.
Babar: Babar must deal with the social stigma of marrying his cousin Celeste.
The Phantom Tollbooth: Even in a magical land, long-term inhalation of exhaust fumes is a serious health hazard.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar: The caterpillar is doing Whole 30 and it really misses bread.