Starring: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Nicole Kidman
Director: Paul King
Running Time: 96 mins
Paddington is a British film about a Peruvian bear who travels to London to start a new life, and is taken in by a caring local family as he adjusts to this new lifestyle, however he faces a threat from a psychotic taxidermist who wants to steal him and stuff him for display at the Natural History Museum.
Well, for a film that, from its trailers, looked likely to be a cheesy and generic family comedy that would destroy the magic of a classic children’s story, this was actually a big surprise. It does have a bit of a cheesy feel to it, but it’s full of great laughs throughout, as well as strong performances across the board and a genuinely warm and nice atmosphere to it all.
So, let’s start with how well this adapts the story of Paddington Bear. In short, pretty well. Updating something like this can always be problematic, and whilst this film tries to blend modern London with a city that still feels stuck in the 1950s, it all seems to come together pretty well in modern day, which can be seen as a great achievement.
The atmosphere of the setting of this film, however, is one of the strangest things. Oddly, it feels extremely like a Wes Anderson film. Its quirky dialogue and awkward comedy of course add to that feeling, however the way that London is portrayed, with its bright colours contrasted with the darker industrial qualities of The Smoke gives it a feel akin to something like The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Now, as well as the excellent updating of the story, this film is full of laughs from start to finish, and what’s more, they’re all jokes that all the family can enjoy. There’s countless in-jokes about London, mixed together with slapstick and a whole host of other gags along the way, but the success of this film is that it’s never too simplistic or cheesy to put off any adults, whilst its comedy never goes too far to the extent that some parts would be inappropriate for kids, absolutely everything here constitutes a perfect family film – warm, funny and simply delightful to watch.
Finally, the performances here are absolutely brilliant. Again, in a family film like this, many actors don’t put their best into their roles, however absolutely everyone really gives it their all here, with great turns from the likes of Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Peter Capaldi and Nicole Kidman (who is both hilarious and petrifying) in the live-action roles, whilst Ben Whishaw does a stunning job as the voice of Paddington Bear, because he’s just got that softness to his voice that makes it so pleasant, however you can still really hear the enjoyment in his performance, which makes a huge difference in adding to the fun of this film.
Overall, this gets a 7.6, because it’s not only a funny, entertaining and interesting update of a classic children’s story, but it’s got a brilliantly weird but warm atmosphere that makes it a great watch for all the family.