Paddington – 4 out of 5
Paddington is an icon across the pond and a beloved character to children. When I was younger, I remember watching old reruns of the stop motion/2D animated series from the 70s and remember enjoying the little lovable scamp of a bear that loved marmalade sandwiches. However, as I got older, my love of Paddington faded away as I got into more things geeky and spend more time focusing my love on Doctor Who, Star Wars and all things superhero. Since I’ve grown and never really kept up with Paddington, I kinda/sorta expected to find this movie to be a silly, mad dash cash grab for childhood nostalgia but was a bit surprised to find something far more charming and something that excellently captured the spirit of the character.
|Oh my stars! Is he in the cockpit of a TIE fighter?|
After a brave explorer (Tim Downie) discovers a new species of bear in darkest Peru that is intelligent and is capable of learning English. The traveler left an impact on the bears and they had hoped to visit him in his home in London. Years later, their home is destroyed by an earthquake and the youngest of the bears (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is sent to London to start a new life. At Paddington Station, the bear meets up with the Brown family; Henry (Hugh Bonneville), Mary (Sally Hawkins) and their children Judy (Madeleine Harris) and Jonathan (Samuel Joslin). Seeing the bear has no home, they name him Paddington and take him in until he can find a home and locate the explorer he met years ago. However, unbeknownst to Paddington, a nosey neighbor named Mr. Curry (Peter Capaldi) and a mysterious woman named Millicent (Nicole Kidman) are out to get him.
|Spoiler Alert: Here motives to get Paddington involve learning if they really do what|
she's heard they do in the woods.
|"Don't look at the bear, children. All he's looking for|
is money for more marmalade sandwiches."
When I first saw the trailer for Paddington, I kinda wrote it off and expected the film to be a slapped together adaptation of the children’s books by Michael Bond. However, the actual product was far more charming than I thought. It would be easy for the spirit of the source material to be lost since the first book was published in 1958. This isn’t a dig at the latest social media created generation but rather the reality that when older works are adapted they often reflect the nature of the world we currently live in. Think about all the sci-fi movies from the 70s and how so many of them have disco soundtracks. However, the good natured spirit of Paddington with all his shenanigans with the Brown family really felt like they were lifted directly from the book and the whole project was not only given the "thumbs up" from the members of the cast and crew that love Paddington but from the creator himself; Michael Bond.
|And speaking of creator Michael Bond, there he is! Cheers!|
The special effects in the film are incredible and Paddington—even with being a talking bear in a coat and hat—looks like he belongs in this world. The actors all interact perfectly with him and there’s none of those awkward acting moments where actors can’t quite interact with something that is added in post and it equals to something that feels believable. Furthermore Ben Whishaw does a great job of voicing the character and making an emotional, curious and loveable bear. Originally, Colin Firth was cast to voice him but left the project when it was agreed that he wasn’t right for the part. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that was curious to see how his voice would have worked but, in the end, Whishaw just felt so natural in the role.
|Too many marmalade sandwiches, Paddington.|
The rest of the cast is very enjoyable as well. Each player in the Brown family fit perfectly and were all very entertaining in this film—especially Hugh Bonneville who had, in my opinion, one of the funniest sequences in the film. Additionally, Peter Capaldi (The Doctor!) and Nicole Kidman were great as the films antagonists and played off each other very well. Capaldi was very amusing as the grumpy and smitten with Millicent; Mr. Curry, and Kidman really found that perfect balance of being a villain who is out to get Paddington but isn’t too cheesy or overly threatening for a kid’s film.
|Anyone else look at this picture and can hear Capaldi say, "Hello, I'm the Doctor," |
in his voice?
Being a film geared for the younger audience, it’s expected that the humor is going to go for the more innocent stuff and it does that. Most of the humor is Paddington getting into trouble as he tries to adjust to living outside the jungle and while it’s never terrible, I didn’t find it the funniest either. I’m not saying the film wasn’t funny, I’m just saying I found it amusing and didn’t spend a lot of time laughing out loud. The one exception has to be the sequence I alluded to in the last paragraph. There is a part where Paddington and Henry Brown are trying to find out the explorer’s name and it involves Henry dressing like a cleaning woman and being hit on by security guard. Yes, gags like this have been done but Hugh Bonneville’s delivery in that sequence is hysterical and made for a moment that was unendingly entertaining and ridiculously funny.
|This scene just floored me.|
Anticipations were having me think that Paddington was going to be cheap but with a simple and effective story that was filled with a great cast, decent laughs, fantastic computer effects and was overloaded with lovable charm. The film was a definite and appreciated surprise and was very heartwarming and endearing.