The Marmalade Mad Bear Returns.
Most people above a certain age will know who Paddington Bear is. A children’s icon for decades Paddington has been noticeably absent from modern children’s television, which is why I am glad to see him making both a debut and a return in his first big screen adventure. Hopefully this will bring Paddington to a modern audience and reintroduce him into children’s television and literature, if and when I have children I would like to enjoy sharing Paddington’s adventures with them rather than be forced to endure the horrific occupants of BBC’s In The Night Garden.
I had great concern for what a modern production of Paddington might entail, modern reboots can often result in soulless cash-grabbing but thankfully there’s a huge amount of dedication to the source material present throughout Paddington’s first feature film. Paul King has done a fantastic job creating a film that can be watched by all ages, kids are going to love it and chances are their parents will too. The humour is spot on, well and truly aimed at tickling the British funny bone, none of the jokes are over the top or painfully stupid, Paddington gets himself into all manners of hilarious physical mishap while Hugh Bonneville steals many of the best lines as the ever precautious Mr Brown. Many well known British actors make an appearance with Julie Walters, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent and Matt Lucas to name but a few. Samuel Joslin and Madeleine Harris do a good job as Jonathan and Judy Brown, very often children in family films are insanely irritating to those of us who are no longer twelve, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself liking the entire Brown family. Peter Capaldi makes for a great fit as the disapproving neighbour Mr Curry, who allies with a villainous Nicole Kidman who intends to catch and stuff Paddington for her taxidermy collection. Whilst this may sound like a rather grim story-line for a family film it’s handled well and even the darker moments of the film are soon countered with comedy to ensure the mood is kept upbeat.
Although a relatively short film (95 mins), Paddington achieves exactly what it should providing a great family film for the Christmas season that emphasizes the importance of family regardless of whether or not they are of the same species. Production wise, Paddington looks great with clever scene changes and cinematography, the titular bear looks wonderfully textured and whilst obviously computer generated he is incorporated so well that I never felt it detracted from the film at all. Ben Whishaw was far and away the best choice as the voice of Paddington, having seen the early footage of Colin Firth voicing Paddington I do believe it was the right choice to change actors. Whilst Colin Firth has a great voice it just wasn’t quite right for a young bear exploring all the wonders of London, whilst Whishaw communicates Paddington’s innocence and passion for all things to great effect.
I enjoy all types of films but I find family films to be something of a minefield as all too often the humour is too simple or the premise too silly but Paddington strikes the correct balance of being well written and providing entertainment for all members of the family, not just the children. Some moments may be a tad upsetting for very young children but these are brief and few in number. If you’re struggling with the wet and wild weather of winter and looking for something to take the kids to, go and see this fun, heartwarming tale of a bear simply trying to find a family (and marmalade sandwiches) in London, you won’t regret it.