Don’t hate me for saying it, but after seeing the trailer for Paddington a handful of times, I was perplexed and confused at the universal critical acclaim. To me, it looked juvenile, unfunny, and poorly constructed. But that was just a trailer. Believe me when I say that Paddington is hilarious and charming, and I’m talking about the movie and the bear himself.
Based on the classic British series of stories, Paddington tells the tale of a bear who is in search of a home after his mother sends him off to London after an unfortunate set of circumstances. After being welcomed into the home of Mr. and Mrs. Brown (Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins, a terrific set of actors in top form), a humorous and entertaining set of events unfold that touch on subjects such as death, loneliness, being in a new environment, and taxidermy. Yes, taxidermy.
As the bear, Ben Whishaw is just perfect, hitting every emotional note possible through the medium of voice work. It only takes five minutes to digest the fact that this same bear was going to be voiced by Colin Firth. I love Colin Firth and I think he’s a tremendous actor, but Ben Whishaw just brings a youthful and vibrant charm to the character of the bear that Firth simply couldn’t. He’s perfect, and whenever the little bear was finding himself in a mischievous state, I couldn’t help but smile.
As if the charming character of Paddington isn’t enough, the movie also transcends the level of expectancy with the direction and cinematography. Director Paul King and cinematographer Erik Wilson have filmed a great looking movie, adapting lights with pristine beauty and getting some impressive shots. Also, kudos to the special effects team (they also worked on Gravity), who seamlessly bring these animated bears into the real world. They look great, believable enough while also being cute enough to fall in love with.
I saw this film in a sold-out theater, surrounded by random kids and their parents. The funny thing is, it didn’t seem to matter. They were going crazy. The parents were laughing with them, but not for the sake of making their kids feel comfortable. They were genuinely amused. Paddington is action-packed and sometimes perilous (when Nicole Kidman comes into the picture, rocking a villainous role), but it’s also sweet, charming, and oh so funny. Take the family out for this one. You’ll be smiling for days.
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Ben Whishaw, Nicole Kidman
Written by Paul King and Hamish McColl
Directed by Paul King
Photo credits: HollywoodReporter.com, hdwallpapers.com, screenrant.com