“Please look after this bear”. This is what the tag that is initially around Paddington’s neck says but it is also applicable to this movie adaptation. The film is a re-telling of Michael Bond’s stories that has been carefully updated to a modern setting. This means it’s a charming tale that doesn’t compromise on quality while still remaining faithful to the source material.
The film is a sharp comedy that is directed by Paul King (The Mighty Boosh) and is a family-friendly and action-filled story. It begins like an old black and white documentary talking about an English explorer named Montgomery Clyde (Tim Downie) who once visited the deepest and darkest part of Peru. Here, he encountered a special tribe of bears who had a knack for learning the English language. These two bears just happened to be the aunt and uncle of Paddington. The youngster would live with them after his parents died and until an earthquake destroys their village.
Clyde had always promised that if the bears ever visited London that they’d be welcomed with open arms. So Paddington’s elderly aunt gets him to stow away on a boat. She reassures him that all will be well in London and a nice family will adopt him. The marmalade-loving Paddington (who is expertly voiced by Ben Whishaw) is a tad naïve and believes this, until he realises that this large, English city isn’t quite as he imagined.
Eventually luck intervenes and Paddington is adopted by the Brown Family, a quintessential, middle-class English one lead by Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins. They are joined by their children (played by Samuel Joslin and Madeleine Harris) and their strange housekeeper, Mrs. Bird (Julie Walters). But Paddington’s presence is also discovered and threatened by an evil taxidermist (Nicole Kidman) and a horrible-and-socially-inept neighbour (Dr. Who’s Peter Capaldi). There are also two great cameos from Jim Broadbent and Matt Lucas.
Paddington is full of mischief and hijinks plus lots of funny quips and one-liners as well as quirky visual gags. There are also lots of nice shots of London (including Tower Bridge, the London Eye and the Natural History Museum). All of these things mean that the film is as likely to appeal to adults that are either new to or who grew up with the duffel-coat-and-red-hat-wearing bear as well as children experiencing the character for the very first time. Some of the best scenes are when the starry-eyed, outsider Paddington tries to adjust to “human” life by using the facilities (the bathroom) or taking a ride on the Underground. There are also great interludes involving a Mission Impossible parody and a calypso band.
This film is an engaging, accessible and heart-warming story about a polite, well-meaning bear that you will want to cheer on from the start. Paddington is a “different” character who is vulnerable, emotional and sometimes rather awkward, but he gets under your skin and tugs at your heartstrings and you want him to succeed. His loveable and expressive persona and warm personality shines through and when this is coupled with great visuals, solid performances, funny gags and a little drama, this makes for a perfect Christmas film, an absolute treat for young and old to enjoy together.
Originally published on 8 December 2014 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/2014/12/08/film-review-paddington-uk-france-2014/
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