How Did I Become That Anxious Dad?
One of the things about having young kids is that you quickly have to get used to watching some films over and over (and over and over) and over and over again.
Recently in our house it’s been “Paddington,” which is good fun even on the 114th viewing, but the repetition also helps drive home some of its themes. The one that made me concerned (pun intended) was Mr. Brown and his anxiety about health and safety.
Mr. Brown is the dad of the film, played by Hugh Bonneville, and he gets quite a few of the laughs (certainly from me) as well as transforming the most.
He starts off as the stereotypical British cold fish, cynical about Paddington’s motives and backstory, and reluctant to offer help. More than that, he’s also anxious to the point of paranoia about his kids’ safety, much to the frustration of his son. It’s explained that he’s a risk analyst, so he’s got the risk calculations and stats at hand to deny his son any kind of fun whatsoever.
However, the Browns’ housekeeper, Mrs. Bird, changes our understanding of him (and his children’s perceptions of him too) with her own backstory of how he used to be an easy rider without a care in the world right up to the moment Mrs. Brown went into hospital to give birth for the first time. By the time she comes out, he’s had a sensible haircut, swapped the bike for a beige Volvo, and become the risk-averse Lord Grantham we’ve already come to know.
(SPOILERS FOLLOW!) Of course, Mr. Brown finds his courage and sheds his paranoid ways to help save Paddington and bring his family closer together by the end of the movie, but life isn’t a movie, and we don’t all get marmalade-obsessed bears to help…