“Long ago, people in England sent their children by train with labels around their necks, so they could be taken care of by complete strangers in the country side where it was safe. They will not have forgotten how to treat strangers.”
Directed by: Paul King
Starring: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Nicole Kidman, Peter Capaldi
Paddington tells the story of the comic misadventures of a young Peruvian bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) who travels to the city in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone, he begins to realize that city life is not all he had imagined – until he meets the kindly Brown family who read the label around his neck that says “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” and offer him a temporary haven. It looks as though his luck has changed until this rarest of bears catches the eye of a museum taxidermist.
What an adorable little bear Paddington is. Voiced by Ben Whishaw, Paddington is brilliantly brought to life with charisma, and oodles of charm. Quite frankly I would be amazed if anyone could not like this character, because he is just so darned loveable. His tale is simple, yet starts on a surprisingly dark and sombre note which gives Paddington’s journey a real heart. As a result, what could easily have been a slapstick romp with a talking bear creating hijinks becomes a genuinely heartwarming affair.
For Paddington’s road to finding happiness with a loving family is not an all together easy one, paved with loss, sadness, homelessness, rejection, and a healthy smattering of treachery from the villainous Nicole Kidman, who is clearly having a fantastic time dialling up her theatrics to 11. But it’s not all doom and gloom (being a family film after all), with Paddington bringing the laughs thick and fast. This is pretty much the perfect family entertainment – with an adorable lead character causing chaos for the kids, and bucket loads of jokes for the rest of the family.
There are a few concessions however with the short run time. The villains of the piece are paint by numbers, and whilst Kidman puts in a fun shift her character is un-fleshed out, and therefore un-memorable, and likewise Peter Capaldi is under-utilised as Kidman’s bumbling admirer (but for one exceptionally funny scene). But, of course, we’re not here for a hard hitting character piece, a la Schindler’s List, we’re here for silliness, great jokes, and for some heartwarming fun to keep us warm in the winter months – and Paddington certainly delivers on those fronts.
Paddington brings Michael Bond’s titular character back to relevance with aplomb. Often hilarious, always heartfelt, Paddington is excellent family fun. Did I mention that he is adorable?
Rating (out of 5):