In an explosion of colour, wit, and energy, the famed British bear Paddington arrives on the big screen. The outcome is nothing short of irresistible, for kids and adults alike, for those familiar with the story and those learning of it for the first time.
This film adaptation finds the precocious, earnest, and chatty furry friend taking from his recently devastated home of ‘Dark Peru’ to the rainy metropolis of London, seeking a new family armed with only an ample supply of marmalade and one signature red hat.
He is quickly taken to by the Brown family; or at least by the two kids and their artistic and loving mother (Sally Hawkins). The patriarch (Hugh Bonneville), a man who dabbles in risk assessment and let’s not his children run and play too aggressively, is entirely hesitant. He is cautious to a point where he calls to raise his insurance immediately – and it comes in handy.
So this wonderfully refreshing piece of family fare, which knowingly asserts that a talking bear wandering around London is a bit weird, but not that weird, is about fitting in, or not, and being around those most precious.
Tightly-told too, it presents a proper villain; a manipulative taxidermist (Nicole Kidman, with ‘the body of a snake’), set on stuffing Paddington. Jokes abound about Londoners stuffiness, dreary weather, and organizational skills, as this fish-out-of-water, or rather bear-out-of-jungle tale is so heartwarmingly enjoyable.
Mixing in jokes both subtle and slapstick, satire and parody, this caper and loving family tale triumphs especially in its warm look. Never mind that Paddington (voiced by Ben Whinshaw) is beautifully realized and detailed. Instead, it’s a vast array of colors, from home decorations to attire to even the rain-soaked streets of London that jump off the screen. During a more tense moment, when Paddington has disappeared, the Brown household as so suddenly shifted to browns and grays instead of reds, blues, and yellows.
It’s a welcome film that is both refreshing and rare, something simultaneously smart and silly that, for however simple, leaves you consistently laughing.