Armed with a red hat, a suitcase, and a love of marmalade, the beloved character from the children’s books, Paddington, has finally made his debut on the big screen.
Paddington (Ben Whishaw), is living happily with his aunt and uncle in darkest Peru, loving life and making marmalade, when his home is suddenly destroyed by an earthquake. With nothing but a suitcase full of marmalade, a red hat, and a note asking for care, Paddington sets off to England, with hopes of finding an explorer who had befriended his relatives years ago. Instead, he is taken in by Mr. and Mrs. Brown (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins) and their children. The family, new in their area, are already facing issues of their own (work, boys, new school), when Paddington enters their life. Their intent is to keep him for a day and help him find a home. What ensues are hilarious mishaps, a taxidermist with an evil agenda (Nicole Kidman), and a heartwarming story of family.
When going into a movie where the target audience is children, one is always skeptical, especially when that film is live-action. This film, however, does nothing but show exactly how a film that is aimed at the entire family should be made. It avoids the cheap laughs (animal flatulence, physical pain, etc), and instead lets the audience sit back and enjoy a movie that has is funny in a playful way. It truly hits the mark in its intent; a film children of all ages can appreciate and find funny.
The acting in this film didn’t need to be superb to carry the story, but it was anyway. We are treated to a couple that plays the part of the serious father and the carefree mother perfectly. Nicole Kidman shines as the villain, and Julie Walters steals the show as Mrs. Bird. The supporting cast also fits in perfectly, making the story so much more enjoyable because you can see that the actors are enjoying themselves.
The titular character, however, is the true star of the show, as he should be. Paddington is adorable, charming, and really grabs the emotional side of the viewer as we see he is, after all, just a bear trying to make his way in a big, new world. The audience is supposed to empathize with the bear, as he shows that just because he is a different species, he still has the same problems that we as humans face. The fact that he is such a polite bear doesn’t hurt either, as his charm is what makes the movie so heartwarming, but really funny at the same time.
This is a movie that needs to be seen by all. Whether you’re a fan of the books (I’m more of a Corduroy fan) or just a fan of cinema in general, you can go and treat yourself to a very nice time at the movies. That seems to be the intended mark for all those who were involved in making this film, and they succeeded on all counts.