Director: Paul King
Starring: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Nicole Kidman, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon,
Rated: PG (mild action and rude humor)
A young Peruvian bear travels to London in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone at Paddington Station, he meets the kindly Brown family, who offer him a temporary haven.
By Cole Schneider
It’s really difficult to make a really good kids movie. It’s especially difficult to keep both kids and their parents in their seats, laughing instead of squirming. In an early 2015 surprise, “Paddington” does just this and it does this with incredible visual style and narrative grace. Sweet, charming, and innocent, and earning it all as it sidesteps any hint of cynicism, “Paddington” is a must-see for families at a time when most family flicks are a chore.
The film follows a young bear from Peru, named Paddington, whose family is visited by an English explorer and learns the explorer’s language and culture before sending Paddington to England to find him. Not shy about its social consciousness, he comes to the country as an immigrant and is ignored or looked down upon by all. One family finally gives him a temporary home. From there we explore Paddington’s comical adjustments to life in Britain and the family’s coming closer together all while a villainous taxidermist (Nicole Kidman) tries to track Paddington down.
The premise is soft, but neither inconsequential nor inadequate. It creates a familiar canvas for the comedy to flow from, while building relationships with some very relatable people. But here’s what you need to know about “Paddington”: it is incredible smart and incredibly funny. Rare is any film that can boast both, even more rare for a family film that tends to follow the lowest common denominator. At times throughout the film, “Paddington” evokes such auteurs as Jacques Tati, Wes Anderson, and the Marx brothers, yet “Paddington” has a voice all its own–one with a thick British accent.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
By Matt Greene
What a novel concept, to make a family film that has humor for kids AND adults without being overly pandering or unnecessarily innuendo-filled. Hollywood filmmakers often think these two things are mutually exclusive (even in stuff I liked like this year’s Penguins of Madagascar), but Paddington has the scent of the best of Pixar, wearing its heart and its humor on its sleeve, often simultaneously. Skillfully directed and impossibly enjoyable, it will leave you grinning from ear to ear.
The story is fairly rudimentary: an uptight but well-meaning family welcomes in an eccentric guest (the form of a bear cub) and all their lives are turned upside down. You don’t go to this movie for surprising story beats or unpredictable twists; instead, go for the bright colors and immense fun. Lead human adults Bonneville and Hawkins are fantastic, treating their roles with as much care as they might for any prestige job they may get. Antagonists Kidman and Capaldi are hilarious adversaries, cartooning-up their performances to wonderful pitches. Even the musical score is filled with oodles of charm.
The film infamously had a fairly troubled production, with a revolving door of cast and crew members. Luckily, you would never know this by the film itself, a fantastic little nostalgia trip that harkens some of the best elements of Steven Spielberg, Chris Columbus, and Wes Anderson. Made with more style and care than most child-geared films, the sweet hilarity stems from inventive comedic-action and some spectacularly well-drawn characters. Tasteful, distinctive, and completely entertaining, Paddington is a family comedy that the WHOLE family can, not just endure but, really enjoy.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars