Film Review: Paddington – 8/10

‘I’ll never be like other people, but that’s alright, because I’m a bear...’

I often think about the problems of the world. The grotesque mewling of politicians. The ubiquitous threat of climate change. The terrible injustices that we must confront every day. The fact that tins of Quality Street have gradually decreased in size. I think about all of these things and then I think that perhaps all of this would be conscionable if only we each had a small, talking bear living in our house. And Paddington bears this out…

Paddington (Ben Whishaw) is forced to move from his beloved jungle in darkest Peru to the cold, uncaring streets of London following a terrible storm. Once there, he is taken in by the Brown family – risk averse patriarch Henry (Hugh Bonneville), loving woman of the house Mary (Sally Hawkins), adventure hungry son Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) and perpetually embarrassed teenage girl Judy (Madeleine Harris). Despite the fact that Paddington seems pretty content to just stare out of his attic window whilst eating sandwiches, he also has a habit of accidentally wreaking havoc on a massive scale. This brings him to the attention of the villainous taxidermist Millicent (Nicole Kidman) who wants Paddington for herself. If you think that is an impressive cast, thrown in Matt Lucas, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Jim Broadbent, Alice Lowe AND Simon Farnaby and you have as many national treasures in one place as a Harry Potter movie.

Working from his own script (co-written with Hamish McColl), director Paul King takes this disparate and wonderful cast and weaves them together to make something truly wondrous. This is a gem of film that had me either smiling or welling up throughout the entire 90 minutes (apart from a brief spell when I was eating). Paddington himself is beautifully rendered and brought to life with real warmth by Ben Whishaw (a late replacement for Colin Firth). Only Kidman’s Millicent feels underwritten and two dimensional, and it is her generic antagonist that prevents Paddington from being an instant classic.

I’ve wanted to see this film for years and only the petty misgivings of my usually reliable wife have prevented me from doing so. I will not be waiting years to gorge on Paddington 2