Review: Paddington - The Family Film of 2014
Produced by David Heyman (Harry Potter) and directed by Paul King (Mighty Boosh), expect big-budget effects with quintessentially British zaniness. If you're a fan of family films with a bit of an edge, this film is a must!
A Bear Named Paddington
Paddington (voiced by Ben Wishaw) has been lovingly rendered for a new generation and is utterly charming. He keeps all the traits of the Paddington we've come to love in his many previous incarnations: polite, clumsy and curious. What has been added is a heart-felt back story from darkest Peru, and a delicate sense of displacement. This is a homesick bear who is desperately trying to fit in with his new, foreign surroundings. He finds family in the Browns, who lovingly adopt and name him, and a kindred spirit in Mr Gruber (Jim Broadbent), a fellow lost soul who has also had to make his way in the country as an outsider, an immigrant. But it isn't an easy transition as Mr. Brown (Hugh Bonneville) has a natural distrust of Paddington. Stakes are high as a taxidermist named Millicent (Nicole Kidman) attempts to track down the bear, with her own ideas of where he belongs; stuffed and caged in the Natural History Museum. Nicole Kidman herself has claimed this film to be "too vicious for my children to see," and indeed she delivers a performance worthy of Cruella De Vil herself.
The message, as you might have guessed, is of tolerance and celebration of diversity, and it's a positive message for old and young alike, particularly amidst current political debate—it has even been suggested that this might be the film to melt UKIP's heart. Throughout, a West-Indian street band (D Lime, feat. Tabago Crusoe) appears playing classic calypso songs such as Lord Kitchener's "London is the Place for Me." These songs are so fitting that they feel as if they have been written for the movie, but they are historic and hark back to a whole generation of immigrants from the 1950's. The songs capture the mood wonderfully; Paddington's optimism on arriving in London and then the disillusionment he feels as he struggles to become accepted.
Check out the trailer...