Review of 'Paddington'

paddington.jpg British explorer Montgomery Clyde (Tim Downie) documents his trip to “Darkest Peru” where he meets an intelligent species of bears whom he befriends and learns they can talk. Years later the two bears Clyde met are raising a young bear Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw). When their home is destroyed Paddington is put onto a ship so that he can find a home of his own while his Aunt Lucy (voiced by Imelda Staunton) moves into “the home for retired bears”. Paddington arrives in London where he is discovered by the Browns family: The father Henry (Hugh Bonneville), the mother Mary (Sally Hawkins), son Johnathan (Samuel Joslin) and daughter Judy (Madeleine Harris). They take a shine to the bear though Henry is not so keen but eventually he is convinced to take the bear in. Later they learn that Paddington's interesting hat belonged to an explorer which they find out is Clyde so go off in search of him. Meanwhile the evil museum director Millicent (Nicole Kidman) seeks Paddington for a new addition to the museum's taxidermy collection…

I was perfectly prepared to be disappointed by this live action adaptation of the Paddington books by Michael Bond but I have to admit it was a lot of fun and kept to the spirit of the books if, perhaps, in a scale more suitable for big-budget films. Paddington's mishaps are far bigger here including flooding the Browns' home, chasing a pickpocket down the streets of Portobello Road Market…

One of the things I was concerned about was how realistic the film would look and in this case I think the producers were able to successfully bridge the fantastical with reality. Paddington inhabits the real world but is not quite a real bear though he looks more like a real bear than in the books (the touches here where he talks “bear” while also speaking perfect Queen's English are quite amusing). The effects are quite nicely done and blend seamlessly with the film such you bearly (sorry, intended pun) notice them.

The story is quite involved for such a film going into a lot of detail about Paddington's history and the rather complicated set of situations that have led him to London. In London the story lightens somewhat with the big-scene predicaments Paddington finds himself in. Towards the end of the film things pick up a pace with the predictable big-action chase scene…

Kidman is delightfully OTT as the rather nasty baddie whose desire to see Paddington stuffed remarkably dark for a children's film. There are a lot of other cameos by famous faces including the wonderful Julie Walters as Mrs. Bird, the Browns' maid, Jim Broadbent as Mr Gruber, the antique dealer and Peter Capaldi (known for his role in Doctor Who) playing the rather grumpy neighbour Mr Curry. No Oscar's here but just good-natured performances all round.

The message here is fairly basic but nonetheless touching: Someone looking for their place in the world. A light but very fun film. One for the young and young at heart.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2018-01-20

Directed by: Paul King

Studio: StudioCanal

Year: 2014

Length: 95 minutes

Genre: Comedy

Other reviewed films by Paul King: