My Take – As a growing up kid with the love for reading (staying near a library helped alot), I did stumble upon this talking bear who wears a red hat & blue coat about twice or thrice, mainly the upon insistence of my dad, in order to prevent me from the usual DC/Marvel comic books I use to pick up. Back in 2007, when the film was first announced, I was generally confused about the direction the film would take, & having seen other animated kid friendly characters turning into live action disasters such as Alvin & The Chipmunks series (Even though the 1st wasn’t all that bad, the sequels oh god no!), The Smurfs, Marmaduke, Garfield etc, made me more reluctant and hesitant as to what I was due to view; Colin Firth’s dropping from the project added to my concerns. To my joy, the film was very far from a disaster!
Indeed, its one of the most delightful family films I have seen in a while. The story begins in Darkest Peru, where a young bear (voiced perfectly by Ben Whishaw) lives happily with his Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) and Uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon). He inherits from them a healthy love for marmalade and London, as well as a floppy, red felt hat left behind decades ago by English explorer Montgomery Clyde. When an earthquake destroys their idyllic home, Aunt Lucy urges her nephew to strike out to London. Many jars of marmalade later, he finds himself in the iconic train station that gives him his name. He meets the Brown family: risk- averse Henry (Hugh Bonneville), lovely Mary (Sally Hawkins) and their children, Judy (Madeleine Harris) and Jonathan (Samuel Joslin). With Henry insisting that Paddington can only stay while he looks for a more permanent home, the bear begins investigations in London – unaware that Millicent, an obsessive, crazy taxidermist (Nicole Kidman), has very specific reasons for wanting him to visit her museum while enlisting help of the Brown family’s weird neighbor Mr Curry (Peter Capaldi). The CGI representation of our titular bear is wonderfully delightful. His expressions and mannerisms are spot on. Strictly speaking, there isn’t anything all that new or original about Paddington. We’ve seen the trope many times before – in trying to find a new home, a misfit changes the hearts and minds of the people who will eventually become his family. The narrative of the film is also little more than a patchwork of wacky accidents: the bathroom flooding scene; apprehension of a pick pocket; the infiltrate the top-secret Geographers’ Guild. And yet, King has crafted something quite charming and magical around the bare bones of his story. He has updated and deepened the story to give the elder Browns their own emotional arc rather than just focusing on the bear.
Most importantly, King has infused the entire film with joyous strains of comedy, slight gags, wit & parodies of other works. The sharp script and stunning visuals would mean little without an accomplished cast – Hugh Bonneville & Sally Hawkins are the soul of the film, its pretty clear they were enjoying themselves enormously. However, Nicole Kidman is the ultimate scene stealer. Her good looks & maniac performance reminds us how an actress can still remain wonderful even after so many years despite a string of flops. Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who) gets his own hilarious moments as well. Director Paul King has given us a story that is simple and easy to follow, but full of momentum. The characters are all well-drawn, sympathetic, and well played. On the whole ‘Paddington’ is a very well-executed adaptation of the titular bear for a 21st century audience. Its a perfect family friendly film which is heart-warming and humorous without being too over-sentimental. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fan of the books, or someone who knew only the cuddly soft toy or the animated escapades, Paddington is a big, warm bear hug of a film, that will surely delight fans of all ages.
Director – Paul King
Rated – PG
Run Time – 95 minutes