Paddington Review

In this big screen re-imagining of the Michael Bond classic Paddington Bear, we are treated to a heart warming and hilarious story of a young bears attempt to find a new home.

With origin stories being the flavour of the decade in Hollywood, Paddington is the latest to have his story told.

The film starts with black and white footage of a British explorer who stumbles upon a highly intelligent group of bears in darkest Puru. He teaches them English and introduces them to marmalade, as well as giving them Paddington’s iconic hat.

Skip forward a few years and these bears are now fully bilingual, marmalade lovers who dream of visiting London. Their nephew is a curious, and adorable, bear whom they have taken custody of after the death of his parents when he was young.

Disaster strikes when an earth quake destroys the bears home, and the young bear is sent on an adventure to England with only marmalade and a sign around his neck reading “Please look after this bear”.

It is in Paddington Station when said bear meets the Brown family, and where he gains he new name Paddington (much easier to say than his birth name)! Here starts his naive, joyous haphazard adventure.

From producer David Heyman, it is no surprise that the vision of London is very stylised, and plays heavily on the stereotypes of a rainy and cold London, but picture post card nonetheless. The Browns are not unlike the Banks family from Mary Poppins; grumpy dad, forward thinking mum and two lost kids.

The cast is outstanding with Hugh Bonneville playing the safety cautious risk analyst, Mr Brown.  He is hilarious and the perfect authority figure just ready to have his heart warmed by a curious bear. 

But it’s Paul King’s direction, and surreal style of animated storytelling, that elevates this film above other less successful counterparts. It’s beautifully creative, fun and action packed. Our young Paddington is party to some brilliant stunts, and sequences that are both gripping and memorable.The animation is outstanding and subtle at times, but little flourishes of creativity leap into the screen to make you smile.

The biggest leap from the source material is Paddington has gained a Cruella De Vil style baddie in taxidermist Millicent Clydeplayed by Nicole Kidman, who is just bad enough without being too scary. Also a notable mention to busy body neighbour Mr Curry, played by Peter Capaldi, who turns out to be a great addition to the cast.

Ben Whishaw replaced Colin Fifth earlier in the year as the voice of our furry adventurer,  and Whishaw has totally nailed the younger innocent voice to make this character the loveable bear we need. 

The overall message of the film is one of love and acceptance, no matter what our differences are.

Paddington is a great family jaunt mixing classic style with a wonderfully cheeky modern script and accomplished effects. Totally delightful! The 2014 Paddington is a bear we would all want to give a home to.

Paddington is out in NZ Cinemas from 18 December.

Reviewed by Ingrid Grenar and Ian Wright

 5 stars