‘Paddington’ Review

By Andrew Haas

I was hesitant to see this movie. Knowing nothing about this iconic British character, the Paddington trailers did not appeal to me at all; it looked like just another dumbed-down kiddie flick based on nostalgic property. And after the movie’s release date was moved from Christmas to January (the worst month to be a moviegoer), it felt like the final nail in the coffin. So, I was surprised that the movie was actually good.

    The story is about a bear from Peru who is sent to London to find a new home. He had lived with a family that encountered a British explorer who introduced them to civil manners and marmalade, so he is surprised to find that London is not as kind and welcoming as he had heard. Luckily he comes across the Brown family who give him the English name “Paddington” and take him in until he can find a place of his own.

There are many elements to this movie that I was expecting to hate, but found endearing. For example, the cast was wonderful. Usually I find kids in family films grating, but these characters have fun personalities and are well performed. The comedy was also surprisingly enjoyable. I was expecting bad animal slapstick, but it has wit and clever jokes, displaying very British humor. Paddington is also a visually pleasing film, which had the essence of a children’s storybook. Still, they don’t stray from silliness, (after all, this is a world where finding a talking bear is not a strange a concept).

The best thing about this film was the little bear himself, Paddington. He represents a sense of innocence lost in today’s cynical world. He comes from an exotic part of the world, yet he is still more polite than the “civil” English folk. Ben Whishaw brings charm to the character and his soft voice suits the bear well. Not to mention the CGI is done very well, especially the bear’s fur. All of these components bring this character to life.

There is a subplot involving a taxidermist, played by Nicole Kidman, who is out to catch Paddington and add him to her collection. This is one of the weaker elements of the film, making a very predictable climax. It adds an unnecessary dark element to a film, but that’s just a minor gripe.

In a month of low-quality releases, Paddington is a sweet film that is breath of fresh air. It has a charming cast, witty humor, and a gorgeous look. Kids will have a lot of fun with this movie, but for adults, it depends. Still, if you’re going to take your family to any film this month, Paddington is worth checking out.