"Stranger danger, there's some sort of bear over there, probably selling something."
For certain generations their childhood has taken quite a knock in recent years, with Postman Pat being turned into a film that looked more like a parody of the Terminator and Top Cat becoming some god-awful animation film that looked as if it were made for 99p. So here is one of the most prestigious children’s properties in Britain, what can this update do to impress us?
Having travelled to London a small bear finds himself lost and alone, Until he is taken in with the kindly though slightly dysfunctional Brown family. It seems as though he has found a safe haven until he catches the eye of a museum taxidermist.
This film is hilariously charming. I can say it instantly, it leverages off of that fondness we all have for this beloved figure. While many adaptations fail to capture the tone and humour of the original series, Paddington does both in fine style. There’s an excellent mix of intelligent and child humour that recreates the atmosphere of what it is based upon like nothing before it.
It was a great reaction to hear, among the laughter in the cinema, huge sighs of relief from all the parents thinking ‘Yes, they’ve actually got it right.’ Director and writer Paul King is clearly a huge fan and this does not for one second have the feel of a cash grab. It feels like someone wanted to make a present for young and old viewers with universal themes of environmentalism, acceptance and family.
The film has such a great look and feel to it. The streets of London are beautifully shot in all its glory, it makes you proud to be British in a way. The multiculturalism shines through in an appropriate way given the film’s content. The animation of Paddington himself was breath-taking, the small bear looked so natural and real (helped by the great performances by the real-life actors), I get the feeling some children may have their hearts broken when they learn about CGI. As well as this Ben Wishaw embodies the character so well, he is now Paddington, it’s as simple as that.
As I said before, though it’s mostly aimed at children there are a few nods to parents as well. Possibly my favourite scene has to be the kids imagining their father (Hugh Bonneville) as a rebel biker in his youth, cue Bonneville pretending to be just that. My first reaction was that it looked ridiculous and stupid, but of course it’s supposed to look that way because children can’t imagine their parents as being anything other than ridiculous. Even more hilarious is the next scene where a leather clad Bonneville dismounts his motorcycle, walks into a hospital where his wife is giving birth, only to walk out later wearing a beige cardigan and carrying a baby, the transformation explained with, ‘Becoming a father can change a man.’
Speaking of Bonneville, he and the rest of the cast do a fantastic job here. The Brown family function so well and so humorously that you feel as if a bear would not be needed to make the film interesting. The supporters like Nicole Kidman and Julie Walters were also wonderful and then you get the celebrity cameos, from Matt Lucas as a cockney taxi driver to Peter Capaldi as the Brown’s disgruntled neighbour.
Paddington manages to be the exact two things you want a film like this to be. It remains nostalgic and charming but maintains a modern and child friendly vibe as it should. I cannot imagine anyone disliking it, except marmalade haters perhaps.