As taglines go, the one chosen for Paddington – “A little bear will make a big splash” – has proven rather apt. Still one of the top films in the box office two months after its UK release date, this film has made quite the impression.
For those who don’t know, the film based on Michael Bond’s books, follows a young Peruvian bear with an insatiable appetite for marmalade, who travels to London in search of a home. Finding himself lost at Paddington Station, he is taken in by the Brown family, who offer him a temporary home. (Fun fact by the way, Michael Bond has a cameo in the film as a Kindly Gentlemen.)
The film certainly made an impression on me. This heartwarming, fun filled family adventure was full of laughs, tears and – dare I say it – the occasional surge of a British Pride.
It is not very often I, or indeed many British people, feel genuine British pride. I think quite a lot of us were a bit shocked at the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony to discover patriotism escaping freely where sarcasm and ridicule should have been. This film riled those similar feelings within me. I never love London so much as when it’s on screen; or when I’m not actually there.
Paddington beautifully captured the, for lack of a better (or indeed real) word, ‘London-ness’ of London. On the one hand there were the wonderful sights to be seen. On the other, the seemingly mundane but loveable aspects, such as the tube and everyone’s determination to avoid and distrust everyone else.
Nothing inspires a love of this country more than self-deprivation, and though that may sound like an oxymoron, you know it to be true. Plenty of this was thrown into the film, undoubtedly for the benefit of the parents amongst the audiences.
Something children and adults could both benefit from however, was the centre of this wonderful tale, the titular character, Paddington. Now, for those who haven’t seen him, firstly where have you been, and secondly, brace yourselves for when you do.
There have been many times when I have desperately wished an animated character could be real; Paddington is no different. He is utterly adorable, so very loveable and quite simply, incredible.
It’s not just me though, who has been so captivated by this bear. It’s so hard to express, the actors themselves in an interview were trying to explain and just kept saying “the bear, his eyes!”
The animators really have done an outstanding job; making something not only visually believable but emotionally connectable must be some feat, though they make it look easy.
The plot is equally captivating, albeit somewhat predictable, but hey, it’s a family film. I hesitate to say ‘children’s film’ because as I’ve said, it is for adults too, perhaps even more so. Older generations will most likely be more familiar with the Paddington Bear books and previous adaptations, and so particularly excited to see this re-imagining of a classic story.
The film is very well directed. There are some beautiful storytelling techniques used, the dollhouse and train segments in particular were brilliant and incredibly clever. I also loved the use of the calypso band, very interesting and endearing.
The film also boasts a sensational cast. The Brown family is headed by Hugh Bonneville (a.k.a Hugh Bonn), who is absolutely fantastic in his role as Mr Brown. Sally Hawkins, Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin are also brilliant as Mrs Brown, Judy Brown and Jonathan Brown respectively.
Nicole Kidman makes the perfect villain in her role as Millicent, giving a great performance that is sure to terrify children everywhere. Julie Walters (Mrs Bird), Peter Capaldi (Mr Curry) and Jim Broadbent (Mr Gruber) also make excellent supporting characters and need I even say it, all give superb performances.
Hats off as well to the wonderful voice actors, Michael Gambon (Uncle Pastuzo) Imelda Staunton (Aunt Lucy) and of course, Ben Whishaw as Paddington.
Overall, this film ticked all the boxes it was supposed to. It is quite simply, a delightful watch that is enjoyable from start to finish. I am more than happy to give this bear and his story, a home in my heart.