No trailer had me more excited for a movie this year than the one for Paddington. This was a complete surprise as you can imagine because I’d never been a huge fan of the bear in the red hat and blue duffel coat and whenever movies try to bring a character from the past to the big screen, it is either too silly and kiddie or too far removed from what made it so original and enduring in the first place. The trailer sucked me in though. It was funny and literally had me crying with laughter and from that moment, I was desperate to see what this film could do. Luckily, for the most part, the movie didn’t disappoint.
It isn’t an instantly kiddie movie and the opening scenes will pull at the heart-strings without trying too hard. It’s all down to the fantastic character they’ve created with Paddington. He is a cute, kind, trusting but slightly naïve bear, who knows very little about the world. It’s these moments that make the movie so funny though.
Paddington harks back to the classic days of Mr Bean and other slapstick comedy characters. Put Paddington in a room and let the simple situation escalate, driven by his curiosity. The bathroom scene from the trailer is still great but is then added too with interactions involving cello tape or skateboards. Its simple, pure humour and because Paddington is such an appealing character, you will get sucked in from the beginning.
Paddington isn’t the only character to shine in the movie. The family is unfortunately pretty generic, with the exception of Hugh Bonneville who plays the Dad, Mr Brown. It’s great to see Bonneville do some comedy work, from cross-dressing to being a bit of a foil for the situations Paddington gets himself into.
Along the same lines is Peter Capaldi’s neighbour Mr Curry. He is the nosey neighbour next door and gets embroiled in the whole movies main plot but it’s a great comedy performance anyway, with Capaldi worlds away from his Doctor Who character.
The cast is full of great British talent, from Julie Walters to Jim Broadbent and it’s a shame that the person most surplus to requirements is the only foreign talent, Nicole Kidman. She does her best Cruella De Ville but the whole story of her evil taxidermist is the weakest aspect of the film. Its unnecessary but understandable to beef out the film and give it a story structure.
Unfortunately, this means that we lose more of the best parts of the movie, Paddington being purely Paddington. I’d have much rather seen more of the slapstick, crazy scenes than ones involving an evil antagonist. It also means we get less of the family dynamic, drawing the Browns to this small little bear who needs a home. Their story feels more rushed than it necessarily needs to be and if we could forgo the bad guy plot, we could have had room to develop this one.
Overall, Paddington is a great example of how to bring a classic British cartoon character to the big screen. It isn’t too kiddie, isn’t too silly and maintains the classic feel of the original bear. Its funny, particularly when Paddington is allowed to roam free and explore. It’s just a shame that the story had to add a bad guy plot to develop the movie when the relationship between the bear and Browns is enough.
Rating – 4.5
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