Starring: Nicole Kidman, Sally Hawkins, Julie Waters, Hugh Bonneville, Peter Capaldi, Ben Wishaw as the voice of Paddington (Rated G 95 min).
From the popular British books by Michael Bond remaining extremely popular through generations on a global scale, the well loved, friendly Peruvian bear gets a cinematic update. With no official Christmas themed movie out this holiday season, Paddington is the pick of the family films for all ages to enjoy and as a bonus for adults, it is indeed continuously amusing.
Considered a national treasure across England, the talking bear Paddington was the subject of a retro television series. However technology has been used to great effect bringing him to life. After stowing away to London, the Brown family meet the stray bear holding his port (suitcase) at Paddington train station. Befriended by the adolescent boy in the family and initially only offering him a place to stay for one night, Paddington (as named due to the location they found him in) becomes a permanent guest.
With a heart of gold, this little furry ball is also a walking disaster zone. Clumsy and cumbersome antics produce a chain reaction of incidents everywhere he goes. You cannot help but have a laugh at the antics of Paddington. Continuous scenes with grumpy neighbour Mr. Harris (Peter Capaldi – the current Dr. Who) are in particular my favourite. The dialogue and observations are priceless, no one seems to blink an eye at a talking bear except for Mr. Harris.
I have always adored Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), she plays Mother Brown full of child-like optimism beaming across the screen. The only real weakness in the film is an unfortunate taxidermy plot involving villain Nicole Kidman, she looks fantastic and is still competent in a thankless role.
A more out of place moment occurs when Father Brown ends up in drag but any innuendo is mild and should fly over kids heads. The focus is on the cute hat wearing bear voiced with distinction by new James Bond star Ben Wishaw (he plays inventor Q in Skyfall and the upcoming Spectre).
A sure-fire crowd pleaser, surrounded by children during the screening I attended, they were extremely vocal during each boisterous madcap situation Paddington finds himself in.
Shane A. Bassett