Paddington—the movie in which a dead-eyed CGI bear terrorizes London, mockingly adopting the speech and donning the dress of the humans he’s killed—has rightly been given a “parental guidance” rating in the United Kingdom, where the film classification board has declared that “some scenes may be unsuitable,” particularly for “younger, or more sensitive children.” But while one might assume this is to protect delicate British lads and lasses from experiencing terrifying brushes with nature that will forever spoil their poetry, the actual motivation is much more frivolous: The British Board of Film Classification has taken umbrage with the film’s sexual suggestiveness, an indictment that goes far beyond Paddington’s refusal to wear pants for ease of sex.
The initial rating handed down to Paddington denoted “mild sex references,” which in terms of British entertainment, would seem to convey the most innocuous sequence of women running in their bras and knickers while various “sproings” are heard on the soundtrack. But that sparked some outcry from Michael Bond, the creator of the Paddington book series.
“I’d be very upset. I might not sleep well tonight,” said the man who created an ursine abomination who hides his natural killer instinct beneath a vacant smile and duffel coat, which was presumably torn from the ravaged flesh of a fisherman who had the misfortune to wander downstream, then marketed him to children. Bond then clarified that he couldn’t imagine how “sex references” would ever enter into it, unless they meant the unholy rape of nature that brought forth such a beast.
In the wake of those objections, the BBFC has now downgraded its PG rating from “mild sex references” to mere “innuendo,” this stemming from a scene where “a man disguised as a woman”—Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville clad as a cleaning lady—is “flirted with” by a security guard, thus providing the requisite shot of a man in drag that is the cornerstone of all British comedy. Bonneville has since told the BBC that he finds this rating “hilarious,” particularly if the male board members delivered it while wearing dresses and screeching in a high voice. Mmm, rather.
Paddington’s PG rating also covers “infrequent mild bad language,” i.e. a single, mumbled use of “bloody,” which British characters can’t just go throwing around like it’s “cunt” or something; plus scenes of “mild threat” and “dangerous behavior,” such as letting a fucking bear in your home.