Paddington is a really great film. It’s got something for everyone, not just kids. And Ben Whishaw (aka Me), brings loads to the role. Basically, go and see it.
But one thing struck me about the film. It’s very much a fun family comedy. Paddington gets into lots of misadventures, but a much stronger emphasis on slapstick than in classic Paddington. He gets in so much trouble, that I found it almost jarring.
RIP the inner child in me, as I sat in the cinema thinking “who’s going to pay to clear all that up, eh?” Perhaps the filmmakers were aware of this to an extent, as the characterisation of Mr Brown as a ‘risk analyst’ sets up a juxtaposition to Paddington’s chaos that forms the thematic core of the movie.
I wondered, is it possible to put an actual value on the amount of damage that Paddington causes? It’s worth a go at least.
Oh, and [SPOILER WARNING] I guess???
Here are the rules:
- Any damage directly caused by Paddington on screen is counted.
- As is any damage that can be inferred from what the other characters say.
- Damage caused by non-characters is not considered (ie. the earthquake at the beginning)
- Damage caused by other characters is not considered (eg. Mr Brown causing damage to the exterior of the Natural History Museum whilst scaling it)
For the most part of the beginning of the movie, there isn’t much damage that we can count. Paddington’s journey from Peru to London mostly involves sitting in a lifeboat eating marmalade. The discarded jars can’t really be construed as property damage, and would fall under some littering offence instead most likely. Moving on then.
There isn’t really anything to speak of until Paddington arrives at the Bond house. The famous bathroom scene is the first major set-piece where major damage occurs. Here’s a rundown:
- 2 x toothbrushes ruined by Paddington inserting them into his ears (Average non-electric toothbrush price: 99p).
- Shower hose. Ruined by Paddington tying it in a knot to stop the water flow. Average price: £8.
- Antique traditional-style toilet. It appears to be an old one, so extra value should be added for that. £150.
- Bathtub. Paddington literally rides it down the whole staircase. That’s got to need replacing. £200.
- Flood damage repair to the bathroom. Taking into account labour and supplies, I’d place this around £1000, given the need to likely replace the floor, doors and walls.
- Brown family toiletries. Judy explicitly says her beauty products are ruined, so we can assume the same for the whole family. Worth around £20 in total.
- SUBTOTAL: 1,379.98
But wait, Richard, you’re probably thinking, doesn’t Mr Brown’s insurance cover accidental property damage? Well, it’s hard to say. We see Mr Brown attempting to temporarily add Paddington to his home insurance during the bathroom scene. But given that the damage is already happening, I’d say it’s highly unlikely he’s going to see a payout. You can’t call up for fire insurance while your home is burning down, after all. And the fact Mr Brown is trying to add Paddington at all suggests he’s not covered under their main policy (and as a risk analyst, he surely knows best!). So no it doesn’t.
Also, property damage is still property damage even if the insurance pays out. Someone is still paying for it.
Next up, Paddington and co. head to Portobello Rd. market to get his hat appraised. During this section, Paddington apprehends a pickpocket. But along the way he gets into some misadventures. Here’s the costs:
- Skateboard. Paddington borrows this from a child and isn’t seen to give it back, so we can assume it’s lost/destroyed. £30.
- Gift stand. Paddington smashes into a stand (ending up with a police hat and umbrella in the process). It’s hard to put a value on this, but let’s be relatively conservative and say £100.
- Aerials. Paddington smacks into about four of these whilst flying about the rooftops. At about £20 each, let’s call that £80.
- SUBTOTAL: £210
After this they head to the guild of explorers. This is a tricky one because the main property damage is to the central pneumatic tube system. Looking online, I’ve found a 1 tube, 2 station system for around £5000. The system in the movie is much more complex than that, featuring potentially hundreds of stations and dozens of tubes. So for this one we have to basically pluck a high number out of the air.
- Pneumatic tube system. Clogged up by a sandwich and burst. £100,000.
- Damage to historical archives. Again, hard to be exact. But let’s call it £1000.
- SUBTOTAL: £101,000
Back in the Brown home, Paddington gets into some trouble when the villainous Millicent breaks in and attempts to kidnap Paddington. This is again a grey area, as the damage is partly caused by Millicent, though Paddington himself is at least partially responsible for much of it. There’s one major cost though.
- Hob oven. Exploded after Paddington leaves the gas on and sets off the pilot light (actually quite a violent sequence in retrospect). £300.
- Assumed property damage to the kitchen caused by gas explosion (parts + labour). £100.
- SUBTOTAL: £400
The final sequence revolves around Paddington’s capture and escape from Millicent in and around the Natural History Museum. Most of the damage here is caused by other characters, and there’s potential damage to the exhibits – such as when Paddington slides down the Diplodocus in the main lobby. But this appears to be only cosmetic damage at best. We’re also not counting the damage to the museum’s infrastructure caused by Jonathan’s DIY dynamite explosion (somewhat inappropriate for a kid’s movie, I thought).
- Two handheld vacuum cleaners, used during the incinerator escape scene. £20 each.
- SUBTOTAL: £40
And there we have it! There’s presumably plenty more damage along the way, and I don’t actually have a copy on me to check so this is all relying on memory. Given that, along with some of our frankly arbitrary estimates, we get a grand total of….
Assuming this all comes of the Brown family pocket, that’s a pretty hefty amount. Plus Mr Brown could be considered criminally liable for much of that, especially given his breaking and entering during the explorer’s guild scene.
I actually thought it’d be more though.
Well, at least Paddington didn’t actually kill anyone. In real life, a stray bear in London would have likely killed/injured many many people.