Paddington (2014)

paddingtonA review by Nalini Haynes

Director: Paul King
Writers: Michael Bond (“Paddington Bear” created by), Paul King and Hamish McColl
Stars: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Nicole Kidman, Peter Capaldi, Sally Hawkins, Imelda Staunton…
Running time: 95 minutes
Watch this if you liked: The Lego Movie, Shrek 1 & 2
Rating: 5/5 stars; this movie will be a classic.

An intrepid British explorer travels to Darkest Peru where he meets a bear who saves his life. Subsequently, the explorer feels unable to shoot the bear. Queue Yoda–Luke-esque scene with the bears demolishing the explorer’s camp — and learning to talk.

Forty years later, when Darkest Peru is flattened by an earthquake, a young bear (the nephew of the bears who met the explorer) sets off for London to find a new home. HE IS A REFUGEE.

When he arrives in London he is buffeted by crowds and left alone on the Paddington Station platform. A kindly mother (Mrs Brown played by Sally Hawkins) invites him to stay for the night before she takes him to ‘the authorities’ the next day. Any attempt by Mr Brown to say the bear’s name results in something rude in bear, so Mrs Brown gives the bear an English name: Paddington.

Mr Curry (Peter Capaldi) is a socially awkward nosy controlling neighbour, the type who’d yell ‘you kids get off my lawn’ if he had a lawn. As it is, he considers his street to be his lawn. Mr Curry is susceptible to Millicent’s (Nicole Kidman’s) charms; Kidman plays a fabulous villain. I love Nicole Kidman as a villain; I was so disappointed there was no sequel to the Golden Compass but now we have Paddington instead.

Just about everyone with a speaking part in Paddington is someone so I’m not going to squee about the long list of awesome. It would take too long and I might let some spoilers slip.

The special effects are brilliant. I don’t usually comment on the visuals unless I have a sighted minion with me but I saw Paddington in a tiny theatre. The close-ups, particularly of Paddington’s face when accidentally falling and sliding, combined with the full knowledge that no-one gets hurt, make the physical humour hilarious. Paddington is so incredibly expressive that he comes alive on the screen. He may not be 100% perfect all the time — occasionally his eyes or mouth reminded me of my traumatising stuffed koala toys — but the character and plot more than compensate for those slight slips.

Paddington is the best family movie to come along since The Lego Movie and, in my opinion, is even better. Filled with action, symbolism that may help teach the next generation, comedy and heart, Paddington is a real family movie with layers, onion boy. I want to say so much more but I won’t spoil the movie. See it yourself.

Paddington is so popular, it gave Studio Canal its biggest ever UK opening with a weekend total of $8,031, 207. Need I say more?

I want Paddington on bluray. I also want a large toy Paddington Bear. You hear me, Santa?