Posted January 16, 2015 by Daniel Hodgson in
A very well-directed film by helmer Paul King, crafted with a love for cinema itself. It’s a good family film, really good, for its energy, its humor, and its gentle heart. Paddington could become a classic itself.
A kid can be a real handful. Klutzy, mess-making, and always getting into trouble. Paddington is like that. He’s also a young, talking bear from darkest Peru, looking for a good, loving home.
The Browns discover him at Paddington Station. Mr. Brown wants nothing to do with him, but Mrs. Brown insists that they take him home for a night.
Orphaned after an earthquake killed his uncle, Paddington is in search of the kindly explorer his aunt and uncle told him about, who promised them a warm-welcome if they ever came to London.
Paddington is a live-action film adaptation of the children’s book series of the same name by Michael Bond, and yet the film often plays like a cartoon, such as a funny sequence in which the disaster-prone bear accidentally causes both the toilet and the tub to overflow, filling the bathroom up to the ceiling with water and causing a tidal wave to come crashing down the stairs and flood the Brown’s home. The way the showerhead practically comes-to-life and attacks him is an especially cartoonish detail.
Paddington doesn’t mean to cause any of the disasters that he does, and his innocence is what makes him so endearing—and so do those expressive, big brown eyes of his. He’s also ever-polite, kindly, and empathetic. A fairly realistic-looking CGI creation, he’s a truly lovable, fuzzy little fellow, with a worrying fixation on marmalade.
Voiced by Hugh Bonneville, who has a gentle but very adult sounding voice, I’m not sure how old Paddington supposed to be, either in human or bear years. He’s not a fully grown bear, and has several childlike qualities: he needs to be provided for, cleaned up after, and supervised. Like a child, he needs grownups.
But the Browns need him, too. The father is a worry-wort; their daughter, a tweenager, is constantly worried about being embarrassed, and the son needs to get out from under his father’s wing. Except for the Mrs., the most level-headed of the family, each of the Browns has something to work out in their misadventures with Paddington.
The film is about Paddington bonding with Mr. and Mrs Brown and their children, but the story takes its eyes off the ball. A subplot with Nicole Kidman as an over-the-top villain in pursuit of Paddington is appropriate to the film’s cartoon style, but also an unnecessary distraction from the main thrust of the story. Paddington doesn’t need a heavy to come between him and the Browns–he does that just fine on his own with all the trouble he gets himself into.
Nevertheless, it is a very well-directed film by helmer Paul King. King knows when to slow the movie down for quiet, sentimental moments. Crafted with a love for cinema itself, the film makes references to classics such as Indiana Jones and Mission Impossible, and uses those moments effectively. Paddington could become a classic itself. My screening was filled with the sounds of giggling children, and the laughter of their parents as well. It’s a good family film, really good, for its energy, its humor, and its gentle heart. Four out of five stars.