Paddington

"Excellent"

Paddington Review


It's difficult not to go into a movie like this with a sense of dread, as the beloved children's book becomes a live-action movie with a digitally animated, eerily realistic-looking bear. Thankfully, the task of filmmaking was given to the inventive Paul King (of Mighty Boosh fame), who made the charmingly surreal 2009 comedy Bunny and the Bull and brings a refreshingly unexpected comical sensibility to liven up this film's family-friendly formula.

It starts in darkest Peru, where a young bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) has been raised by his aunt and uncle (Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon), who learned about London from a British explorer. Now in need of a new home, the youngster heads across the sea and takes the name of Paddington Station when he meets the Brown family: over-cautious dad (Hugh Bonneville), over-curious mum (Sally Hawkins), sulking teen Judy (Madeleine Harris), inventive pre-teen Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) and feisty relative Mrs Bird (Julie Walters). As they help him find the explorer, he has a series of adventures, unaware that the taxidermist Millicent (Nicole Kidman) is on his trail, determined to add him to the species on exhibition at the Natural History Museum.

This Cruella De Vil-style subplot would be seriously annoying if King ever let it take over the movie, but it always remains secondary to Paddington's mayhem-causing behaviour and his bonding with the Browns. It also provides some genuine tension in a climactic action sequence in the museum. But most of the film is dedicated to Paddington's comically ridiculous antics, and Whishaw voices him with just the right mixture of curiosity and hapless mischief to make him irresistible.

Meanwhile, the live-action actors throw themselves into the characters, willing to look deeply silly. Bonneville is terrific as the stern dad whose dignity is undermined by, for example, a bit of cross-dressing. And Kidman is also given a role with a mix of cat-like slinkiness and slapstick goofiness. Hawkins provides the warmth, while Walters and Capaldi (as a nosey neighbour) get the laughs. And Harris and Joslin are a lot sparkier than most movie kids.

Meanwhile, King directs the film with continual visual flourishes. The Browns' house is a masterpiece of production design, with character-defining elements in every room that look fantastic and actually add to the film's meaning. And the digital effects have a nice sense of detail that almost makes us believe that no one would bat an eye at the sight of a cute bear roaming the rainy streets of London. With a script packed with smart humour and witty innuendo, the film will keep both the adults and the kids happy. And the "love makes a family" message emerges without resorting to teary sappiness. Bring on the next adventure.



Paddington

Facts and Figures

Genre: Action/Adventure

Run time: 95 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th January 2015

Distributed by: The Weinstein Company

Production compaines: Heyday Films, StudioCanal, Costa Rica Filming Locations, DHX Media

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 8.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Millicent, as Mr. Curry, as Paddington (voice), as Uncle Pastuzo (voice), as Aunt Lucy (voice), as Mrs. Mary Brown, as Mrs. Bird, as Mr. Brown, as Mr. Gruber, as Taxi Driver, as Andre the Thief, Samuel Joslin as Jonathan Brown, Ancuta Breaban as Commuter #2, Daniel Westwood as Servant, Dominic Coleman as Policeman

Also starring: ,

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