Film Review: Sprightly Bear Tale ‘Paddington’ is Good Fun

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – It may prove hard to recall an era of talking creatures in live-action movies before the napalm hellfire of “Alvin and the Chipmunks” or “The Smurfs.” But, lest we forget, “Babe” has more Academy Awards than “The Master.” Arriving at the coy and wise time of the film year where expectations are either golden or underneath the barrel, talking bear Paddington arrives stateside as a well-behaved throwback to brighter days for a simple genre, with an efficient sense of humor and a few globs of vision, too. Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

Voiced with clear-eyed wonder by Ben Whishaw, cheery children’s book icon Paddington is a Peruvian bear with both a refined English vernacular and ravenousness for orange marmalade, attributes learned from British artifacts left by visiting explorer Montgomery Clyde. When Paddington’s home is destroyed in an earthquake, the young bear stows away to foggy London to meet the revered adventurer.

“Paddington” is less the story of a talking bear finding home than it is an orphan binding a family together. When wandering a London station after his arrival, the pitifully amicable bear catches the eye of the Brown family, a classic, disjointed domestic quintet. Appealing to the charity of matriarch Mrs. Brown (Sally Hawkins, with pinches of sugar) Paddington comes home with the family despite the paranoia of buzzkill dad Henry Brown (a scene-stealing Hugh Bonneville, the Charles Grodin to Paddington’s “Beethoven”). The kin are split on the hospitality issue; the awe-filled Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) is stoked for a wacky new comrade, while angst-filled teen Judy (Madeleine Harris) only see Paddington’s unintentional weirdness as something to embarrass her in front of new friends.

Paddington’s presence causes a stir in the Brown’s neighborhood, upsetting their crotchety neighbor Mr. Curry (Peter Capaldi, his cantankerous nature matched with canted angles). The bear’s unexpected arrival also sets off Eurotrash taxidermist Millicent (Nicole Kidman), who has been in search of the bear for years, and wants to put him in a museum.

“Paddington” opens everywhere on January 16th. Starring Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Nicole Kidman, Peter Capaldi, Julie Waters, Samuel Joslin, Madeleine Harris, and Jim Broadbent. Featuring the voice talent of Ben Whishaw. Written by Paul King and Hamish McColl, adapted from the character created by Michael Bond. Directed by King. Rated “PG

StarContinue reading for Nick Allen’s full review of “Paddington”

Photo credit: The Weinstein Company

StarContinue reading for Nick Allen’s full review of “Paddington”

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