Paddington is a 2014 family film starring Ben Whishaw (Cloud Atlas, Skyfall) as the voice of the title character, Hugh Bonneville (TV’s Downton Abbey, The Monuments Men), and Sally Hawkins (Godzilla, Happy Go-Lucky). The film was directed by Paul King,
Paddington follows the story of a group of talking bears who are discovered yeas ago by an explorer by the name of Montgomery Clyde (Tim Downie). Though he must leave, he promises the bears he will take them to London one day. Now in the present day, the two bears have grown old and have taken in their nephew (who will eventually be called Paddington). When an earthquake destroys their home, Paddington is sent off to London alone. When he eventually arrives, he is taken in by the Brown family. While not all of the Brown family is pleased with his arrival, especially after some immediate home mishaps, they make do while they try to find Montgomery Clyde. Soon, though, the family begins to warm up to Paddington while someone who wants to harm him is in their tracks.
This family film is the perfect example of what a family film should be. Too many times the definition of family film gets lost in jokes that try to be too juvenile that older family members won’t be able to find as much enjoyment (as seen with The Smurfs) or they are more adult-themed in their setting (as seen with How to Train Your Dragon 2). This film has the perfect mix for everyone and it all works. There is never really a dull moment throughout the film as there is either an event to keep things moving at a brisk pace or the humor is spot on. There is nothing particularly groundbreaking with the story but it all works so well that it is a rare family treat.
The look of the film is also very good with its strong colors and light score to accompany it. The look of Paddington himself is remarkable and is the best so far for the animated characters brought to a live-action setting.
The acting is quite enjoyable here as the entire ensemble has fun and Sally Hawkins in particular has her usual charm. Ben Whishaw is unrecognizable as the voice of the lovable bear and brings a new, fun spin to the iconic character. Nicole Kidman has a fun, loose time as the bubbling villain and Peter Capaldi is nice in his small couple of scenes as he plays the crazed neighbor/misled romantic for Kidman’s character.
Paddington fits the definition to the tee of “a movie for all ages”. It’s a fun, laid-back story that doesn’t go for too much but hits all the notes it does perfectly. For the animated characters to live-action genre, this film is the best so far and hopefully more follow suit. Also hopefully there is a way to revisit these characters again in a sequel possibly down the road.
Director: Paul King
Starring: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins
Rating: PG for mild action and rude humor
Runtime: 95 minutes