2014 has been a year where studios have pushed themselves to adapt anything and everything. A lot of stories have been adapted very well and others were simply frightening. Indeed, the track record for critical response to the adaptations has risen somewhat as studios find ingenuous ways to ensure that these films are portrayed with integrity. One such film this year is Paddington, adapted from Michael Bond’s iconic character. And, with such an iconic character, a lot of care and consideration had to be taken in the transition. Paddington has demonstrated a lot of respect for its source material, creating a celebration of the character and the themes that follow this hungry bear.
In the jungles of darkest Peru, explorer Montgomery Clyde (Tim Downie) stumbles upon some smart and curious bears. Pastuzo (Michael Gambon) and Lucy (Imelda Staunton) shelter the explorer, while he shows these docile creatures some customs of the English, including manners and the benefit of marmalade. The explorer departs and over the years, the two bears impart his wisdom to their nephew, Paddington (Ben Whishaw). As Paddington continues to grow, so too does his fondness for marmalade and his curiosity of the explorer that his relatives met. After a storm sees the destruction of his home, Paddington decides to travel to London to find a new home. He leaves his relatives behind, but finds a new family within the dysfunctional Browns.
Straight out of the gates, director Paul King and writer Hamish McColl demonstrate a high skill in the use of excellent British humour, while still managing to keep the laughs inclusive for the whole family. Paddington does not just bury itself down in the laughs though, as it throws in some satisfyingly sensitive and emotional moments too. Older audiences may have trouble seeing past the somewhat cliché characters that the Browns are. However, keep in mind that this is a film that is meant for children and simplicity is needed to an extent. The film finds a wonderful villain in Millicent (Nicole Kidman), the taxidermist, one who keeps the children on the edge of their seats.
Ben Whishaw is a fantastic choice for Paddington, playing the hell out of this clumsy bear.
His calming and gentle voice suits the character so very well, that it will be one of his standout roles. Also appreciated are the other voice actors, veterans Imelda Stauton and Michael Gambon, who reunite after working on Harry Potter. Hugh Bonneville provides the wonderful, dry English wit, while Sally Hawkins injects an overall caring heart. More enjoyable though are the supporting appearances of Jim Broadbent, Matt Lucas and Peter Capaldi.
Paddington really is a terrific movie for something so straightforward and simple. The CGI of Paddington is second to none and the overall aesthetics of the settings and costumes are instrumental in creating a family friendly mood. It is one of those odd films that, to really thoroughly enjoy, you need to bring the kids along. They will see jokes that you might not regularly find funny. If someone as cynical and crabbish as I can enjoy this children’s film, it says a lot to its character.
Make sure to like Untitled Movie Review on Facebook and subscribe to their YouTube channel!