Paddington (2014)

Paddington (2014)

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"A double room please. And this is not what it looks like."
“A double room please. And this is not what it looks like.”

Twitter Plot Summary: Paddington is given the big screen treatment and has to contend with a taxidermist who wants to, er, stuff him.

Let’s ignore the controversy that struck Paddington before its release. First, Colin Firth “consciously uncoupling” from voicing the character in hindsight was a good move, and to do so with the grace in which he did is testament to his character. Then there’s that infamous PG rating, which came as a shock to some given how family friendly Paddington has been. The only potentially objectionable moments for parents sees Paddington climbing into a fridge to hide, and a brief sequence sees Hugh Bonneville in drag. Other than these two moments (and a slightly dark opening that might be too much for some younger viewers) there’s nothing here that’s anything other than family friendly entertainment.

Not only does Paddington achieve the same tone as Michael Bond’s original stories, but it also effectively brings that style of narrative into the modern age. Paddington is shipped off to England in order to make a life for himself away from the jungle. There he meets the Brown family, headed by Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins, and accompanied by their two children Judy (Madeleine Harris) and Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) and housekeeper Mrs Bird, the ever reliable Julie Walters.

Of course, there is the man who replaced Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington – Ben Whishaw. His voice fits the character perfectly without having to do anything other than use his own voice. With his tones emerging from Paddington’s mouth there is a youthfulness, a sense of naivety, but counterbalanced by hints of someone who is capable of looking after themselves if the situation required it.

"Behold! My gloriously symmetrical haircut!"
“Behold! My gloriously symmetrical haircut!”

Paddington meanwhile is wonderfully realised, and unlike most CGI creations it never proves to be something you find yourself focusing on. Indeed, while there are several moments where he’s clearly been composited onto live action footage, noticing those moments does not ruin your enjoyment in any way. The various developments in the story all work in context with one another, and Paddington’s various accidents and youthful mishaps are all unconnected yet still push things forward. It helps that they are gloriously silly.

The live action cast all seem to have enjoyed themselves, none more so than Nicole Kidman who has the opportunity to vamp it up all the way to eleven as the taxidermist who wants to stuff Paddington and add him to her collection. Peter Capaldi meanwhile is Mr Curry, next door neighbour to the Browns and has a strong dislike for foreigners of any description. Naturally, because Paddington is from deepest, darkest Peru, his arrival does not go down very well in the neighbourhood.

And then there’s the jokes, which all hit their mark and are well balanced for children and adults alike. Suffice to say, it’s a quick 90 minutes and you’re at the end credits before you realise it. It maintains a blistering pace yet never fails to be charming and, importantly, hugely entertaining throughout. You’d be hard pushed to find another live action family friendly film recently that gets so much right. There should be no excuse needed to break out the marmalade sandwiches on a regular basis.

Score: 4.5/5

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