Director: Paul King
Starring: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Nicole Kidman and Ben Wishaw (voice)
The first thing you notice about Paddington is that it is quintessentially English. The kind of English you associate with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Bed Knobs and Broomsticks and The Railway Children. Take away the incredibly clever CGI and you are left with a movie that could have been made 40 years ago. And this is why it works so well…it is utterly charming.
After an opening segment that explains why he leaves “darkest” Peru, the bumbling bear arrives in London and is taken in by the Brown family. They live in the sort of house that in today’s market would be worth about £4 mil in a street where a Calypso band can be found playing on the corner right next to un-vandalised red telephone box but hey it’s a fantasy!
Daddy Bear – oops, Daddy Brown is played deadpan by Hugh Bonneville who clearly married late in life and copped for a much younger, quirky “missus” (Sally Hawkins). They have two moderately perfect early teenage kids Judy and Jonathon who are a tad disenchanted by their father’s obsession with risk assessment and their mum’s affectionate smothering. The family unit is completed by aged housekeeper Mrs Bird who gives Julie Walters another opportunity to go full on Acorn Antiques “stylee”.
The plot centres on the attempts of evil taxidermist Millicent – Nicole Kidman looking like a Dominatrix version of Cruella de Ville – to capture the little bear and stuff him and how the family learn to love their little lodger who, eventually, enhances all their lives.
Of course the star of the show is the computerised, motion captured Paddington Bear. Beautifully voiced by Ben Wishaw the animators have accomplished the same sort of magic that was achieved in the recent Planet of the Apes movies…the illusion that you are actually watching a living, very real being.
The action sequences are exceptionally well done and although the comedy is essentially pantomime slapstick it is so cleverly realised that you tend to laugh in spite of yourself. Consequently, the movie accomplishes the rare feat of being a kid’s movie that can be genuinely enjoyed by adults.
Being a real “English” product you will have fun spotting the plethora of home-grown talent that pop up in cameos throughout. Look close enough and you will find Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Matt Lucas, Geoffrey Palmer plus many others. As an added bonus you even get the current Doctor Who in a secondary role and very unlike a Time Lord.
In keeping with my normal stance, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to reviewing this as I always feel you need a handy 7-12 year old when watching a movie aimed primarily at them but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t need to see it again but I reckon if you invest in the DVD it will pay for itself in repeated viewings if you do have access to the target audience in your charge on a regular basis.
Must go, I’ve got a terrible urge for a marmalade sandwich!
Rating 4 out of 5 Stars
Snooze Rating 1 out of 5 stars
If you liked this you will also like: Mary Poppins, Stuart Little, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Bedknobs & Broomsticks, The Jungle Book, Ratatouille.