Paddington Bear’s first big-screen adventure is a joy, a warm, witty and generous-hearted family film that honours author Michael Bond’s original creation and works like a dream for a modern audience. Young and old alike will find it a delight.
Winningly voiced by Ben Whishaw, the marmalade-loving bear from darkest Peru fetches up in contemporary London as a stowaway after an earthquake destroys his jungle home. He’s found, on Paddington station of course, by the Brown family – blustering father Hugh Bonneville, sweet-natured mother Sally Hawkins, and their stroppy kids, Judy (Madeleine Harris) and Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) – and taken, somewhat reluctantly, into their home.
Unsure what to do with their guest, Mr and Mrs Brown attempt to track down the Geographers Guild explorer who first discovered Peru’s talking bears 40 years earlier (an episode charmingly portrayed in spoof black-and-white newsreel footage). Paddington, meanwhile, gets into all sorts of comic scrapes with overflowing baths and London Underground escalators.
But a far bigger menace looms in the shape of Nicole Kidman’s wicked taxidermist, Millicent Clyde, who wants to add Paddington to her collection at the Natural History Museum…
Kidman’s slinky, kinky, stiletto-heeled dominatrix is a villain to die for, yet Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins hit just the right down-to-earth tone. Full marks to writer-director Paul King and Harry Potter producer David Heyman for grounding the fantasy in a recognisably real world.
Julie Walters and Peter Capaldi’s supporting turns are, admittedly, a tad on the broad side – she’s the Browns’ bustling Scottish housekeeper Mrs Bird and he’s their curtain-twitching neighbour Mr Curry – but Paddington himself, his fur beautifully rendered in CGI, fits right in, curious, courteous and downright cuddly.
Certificate PG. Runtime 91 mins. Director Paul King.
Paddington is available on Blu-ray, DVD & download from Studio Canal from Monday 23rd March.