Paddington (2014)

Review #1,115

Director:  Paul King
Cast:  Hugh BonnevilleSally HawkinsJulie Walters, Ben Whishaw, Nicole Kidman, Jim Broadbent
Plot:  A young English boy befriends a talking bear he finds at a London train station.  A live-action feature based on the series of popular children's books by Michael Bond.

Genre:  Comedy / Family
Awards:  -
Runtime:  95min
Rating:  PG

What if Ted meets Paddington in London?  That is one buddy movie I would like to see.  But it is not something you will bring your kids to.  Paddington is the anti-Ted, suitable for all ages, and promises fun and joy to all who see it.  Very much a British icon, the loveable bear makes a comeback in this revitalization of an old story. 

Surprisingly well-made, the movie sees a young bear from “Darkest Peru” taking on a solo journey to London to find a home.  This is after an earthquake kills his uncle, leaving his aunt to send him on his inevitable voyage.  Amid uncertainty, he finds himself at Paddington station, encountering a family who takes him in for the night.

Paddington is responsible for much of the film's physical comedy.  We find amusement in him trying to use the numerous household items.  An early sequence with him in the bathroom promises laughter amid comical disaster, including a gross-out scene with toothbrushes. 

Of course, the film needs a villain of some sort to create suspense, and she comes in the form of Nicole Kidman with sly eyes and a white wig, playing an evil taxidermist who wants to stuff the next great creature.  Part comedy, part (mis)adventure, but all family, Paddington is wholly predictable, but because its treatment is earnest, the film comes across as endearing and charming.

The visual effects are outstanding, blending in with live-action seamlessly.  Despite being an animated creature, Paddington looks every bit as realistic as the actors.

I was not really familiar with the story of Paddington, so when the theatrical trailer was first released, I was put off by a bear that can talk, particularly so when there is no magic involved.  Nevertheless, the film's prologue sequence, a black-and-white short centering on a geographical explorer who chances upon Paddington's uncle and aunt many, many years ago, allayed my fears. 

I begun to think: there is no need for magic when a talking bear, strange (or stranger) it may be, provides that warmth and comfort, only if you have the heart to embrace it.

Verdict:  Wholly predictable, but endearingly well-made, this anti-Ted movie promises fun and joy for all ages in the family.

GRADE: B (7.5/10 or 3.5 stars)

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