Beloved by many generations all over the world, Paddington Bear was first brought to life in the 1958 storybook A Bear Called Paddington, and now over 50 years later is getting his own feature film. Paddington follows the young, marmalade-loving bear’s story in a live-action retelling, that begins in his home in darkest Peru and follows him as he ventures to London, meets the Brown family and is reluctantly adopted into their home. What follows is a series of misadventures as Paddington learns how to integrate himself into normal human life, which proves a little more difficult – and consequently more hilarious – than Paddington anticipated.
Voiced by Ben Wishaw, Paddington is surrounded by all the familiar characters from the old story. While Mary Brown (Sally Hawkins) happily welcomes Paddington into her home, he husband Henry Brown (Hugh Bonneville) is all too wary of the talking bear, concerned for the safety of his children Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) and Judy (Madeleine Harris). Their grumpy next-door-neighbour Mr. Curry (Peter Capaldi) is there to stir up trouble, while the cheerful antique shop owner Mr. Gruber (Jim Broadbent) helps Paddington track down the explorer that first discovered their species of bear in darkest Peru. But not everyone is accepting of the little bear, and the villainous taxidermist Millicent (Nicole Kidman) will stop at nothing to capture and stuff Paddington as the new, rarest addition t0 her collection at London’s Natural History Museum. What’s a bear to do?
It’s a star-studded cast of lovable British names, which also includes the likes of Julie Walters, Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon, and the characters they play are equally as charming. Funny, heart-warming and enchanting, these characters will melt you into a big puddle of warm-and-fuzziness, and will have adults everywhere embracing their inner child. Nicole Kidman gets to try on something a little different as the dark, seductive Millicent, whose presence was a little sinister in comparison to the rest of the characters, but hey, every good story needs a villain.
This film is wonderfully acted and is visually very exciting, with imaginative sidebars and a vibrant sets, but there is only one problem: it is aimed at a very young audience. While there are some gags for the parents and older viewers, Paddington will get the most giggles from the four to eight-year-olds, and it can leave us big kids wanting a little more. In saying that, parents will be glad to know that this is a very good children’s movie, with almost no presence of violence except for when Millicent shoots her tranquilizing gun at Paddington, which kids may mistake for a real gun and get understandably distressed. There were some particularly funny and original jokes that had me stifling laughter, but I did find myself wishing for just a little more maturity.
In saying this, Paddington is still a hugely enjoyable film that will have you smiling from ear to ear. It will be the perfect children’s movie for the holiday season, and is sure to please the entire family.
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