Director: Paul King
Starring: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins
Running time: 95 minutes
There has been a lot of controversy in the run up to the release of Paddington, mainly down to the fact that the British Board of Film Classification decided that the film should be rated a PG. It is difficult to imagine Michael Bond’s bear starring in a film containing ‘dangerous behaviour, mild threat, mild sex references and mild bad language.’ But does the PG rating detract from the film? Definitely not. Paddington is a family friendly film, but it is also perfect for anyone who has grown up with Michael Bond’s stories. The latest film from Harry Potter producer David Heyman, Paddington is a visual delight. After Colin Firth dropped out from the film there was worry over who would replace him, but Ben Whishaw stepped in and is perfect in the main role. His voice is sweet and charming; everything you would expect Paddington to sound like.
Starting with Paddington in his home jungle in Peru, the film introduces his Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo, as well as an explorer named Montgomery Clyde. Clyde notes that this particular group of bears are intelligent, love marmalade, and can easily learn English. With that he informs the bears that they are always welcome in Britain should they need to move. So where does Paddington go when an earthquake strikes and destroys his home? London, of course.
His time in the capital brings the most laughs and the most heart-warming moments. Paddington finds his way to Paddington station and stands on the platform with the iconic ‘Please look after this bear, thank you’ tag around his neck waiting for someone to take him in. Cue Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins as Henry and Mary Brown. Mr Brown rushes past Paddington, but Mrs Brown is more sympathetic and offers him a bed for the evening and to help him find Montgomery Clyde for a home.
It is from then onwards that trouble ensues. Paddington is notorious for causing problems, but those problems have definitely been upped on the big screen. Nicole Kidman also stars in the film as sadistic museum owner Millicent. Her extensive collection of stuffed exotic animals gets even creepier when you consider that she would love to add Paddington to that collection. Teaming up with the Brown’s neighbour, Mr Curry, she does her best to capture Paddington, who find himself in a battle to escape.
Although the trailers up to the film’s release have focused on the humour of Paddington, there are tender moments which are just as potent. The film has a nostalgic feeling to it for anyone who remembers Michael Bond’s books. The author himself makes an appearance, almost like he is giving a seal of approval to the film. Bond’s books may have been set decades ago, but Paddington finds himself at home in 2014 and just as loved. The scenery of London is well used, but the final scene in the Natural History Museum could be said to drag on slightly too long.
Paddington will have you laughing one moment and welling up with tears the next moment. It is a film full of emotion, but definitely one of the surprise hits of the year.