Paddington

Paddington photo starrating-4stars.jpgA charismatic visitor comes to live with a British family in London and their presence has a positive effect on their world. That’s the story of Paddington Bear, but if you stop and reflect on it, that description could also apply to Mary Poppins. Add the fact that it’s based on a popular series of books and is a live action film incorporating a little animation and the similarities start to get a little uncanny. Ok so it’s not a musical. I suppose the parallels had to end somewhere, but the comparisons couldn’t be more apt because Paddington is a sprightly joy that ranks right up there with the beloved Disney classic of 1964.

Author Michael Bond’s 1958 creation is a sophisticated bear from darkest Peru who speaks perfectly modulated English, eats Marmalade sandwiches and wears a red floppy bush hat. Paddington is the latest from UK based Heyday Films, most notable for producing the Harry Potter series. I don’t know if they want to focus on that kid friendly niche but I’d encourage the idea. They’ve created a most heartwarming children’s adaptation. Paddington is no ordinary bear. He was taught human customs by an explorer named Montgomery Clyde when Clyde was visiting South America. After Paddington’s habitat is destroyed in an earthquake, the young bear is brought by his aunt to a ship bound for London to find a new place to call home. At Paddington station he meets the Brown family and their collaboration begins.

The picture is a charming delight. The art direction is really on point. The Browns live in a gorgeous dollhouse of a dwelling. Mom (Sally Hawkins) & Dad (Hugh Bonneville) with their kids Judy (Madeleine Harris) & Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) are an ordinary family in need of some adventure. The bright, cheery comedy remains innocent and doesn’t degenerate into pop culture schtick or cheap innuendo. The production didn’t always seem that way. Paddington Bear starts out with the Browns on kind of a slapstick note when he arrives at their residence and gets ready for bed.  Gags about ear-wax and sticking his head in the toilet after drinking mouthwash were used for the trailer. But they aren’t emblematic of the refined quality of the movie. Although the way the scene ends is funny for its exaggerated spectacle.

Paddington is unabashedly wholesome. That’s not to say the script is schmaltzy. Nicole Kidman pops up as the villain – a beguiling museum taxidermist sporting a blonde bob hairstyle. Her Millicent injects some sinister edge into a story that could’ve been a saccharine tale. An even more fundamental ingredient is our star, an Andean bear. Ben Whishaw is the voice of the CGI fellow replacing Colin Firth, whose voice was deemed too mature. The character, who is the personification of goodness, strikes just the right balance of sweetness and mischief. Paddington’s amusing mishaps often rely on his naiveté. His misadventure involving returning a lost wallet is a humorous case of mistaken identity. It’s too early to anoint this as the best children’s film of 2015, but if this is representative of family entertainment this year, then we’re off to a great start.

01-16-15

Advertisements

17 Responses to “Paddington”

  1. Utterly delightful film.

  2. I was utterly surprised when I saw this one pop-up among the Bafta nominees and I really didn’t expect all the critical praise. Pretty cool. Guess I’ll have to check it out.

    • I’m so glad you brought that up. When Paddington was nominated for two BAFTAs: Outstanding British Film and Adapted Screenplay, I kind of did a double-take. In the first category its competition includes The Imitation Game, Pride, The Theory Of Everything and Under The Skin. If Paddington prevails in either category, it would be a pretty shocking upset. However the film is indeed wonderful – a nice surprise.

  3. I’ve heard a couple of people express skepticism about this one, but just based on the preview I thought it looked charming.

  4. I skipped this at the time and I am regretting it now.

  5. Not seen this yet, but I’ve heard pretty much universal praise. I’ll probably leave this one for DVD though as there is a growing queue of other films I need to catch first!

  6. Honestly I was ready to pass Paddington over because I had assumed it would be everything you’re saying it’s not. I was worried it would be schmaltzy and degenerate into the pop culture schtick or cheap innuendo that you mention. Your review of it has gotten me to change my mind about seeing it though. So thanks.

    • Huge hit overseas, particularly in the UK – Australia too. It hasn’t really caught on in the U.S. American Sniper has completely dominated the box office as of late.

  7. I loved this movie. I actually thought the slapstick moments were the best bit of the whole thing. The story itself is quite weak and unnecessary.

  8. This was such a warm, big hug of movie. I wasn’t sure if this would be good. The previews seemed, meh. So glad I saw it. So good.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: