Paddington

by | Feb 9, 2015 | 0 comments

An Adorable Adaptation of the Classic Children’s Book

I want a marmalade sandwich now! After leaving Paddington not only was I surprised and enclosed in the sweet and warmth, but I was also trailed by various mementos from the film; be that the marmalade sandwiches that the protagonist bear Paddington ate, or the recurring Caribbean band acting almost as a Shakespearean chorus for the audience.

Paddington is adapted from the classic British children’s books of the same name written by Michael Bond. Paddington is the name of our main character, a bear (of the fictional species ursa marmaladus). Our bear (voiced by Skyfall’s Ben Wishaw) lives in Peru with his aunt Lucy (voiced by Imelda Staunton) and his uncle Pastuzo (voiced by Michael Gambon). Lucy and Pastuzo had previously met a British explorer many decades ago. This explorer had introduced them to humans and shows them our customs and objects. Thus the bears are introduced to clothing, manners, and best of all: marmalade. When the explorer leaves, he promises the bear family would always be welcome in London. Over the years Paddington grows up learning English from old records players, and he also grows feeding only on bear-made orange marmalade. After a crippling earthquake however, Paddington’s home is destroyed and, encouraged by his aunt, he leaves to London to find the mysterious explorer who might give him a new home. In London Paddington encounters a cold world, but thankfully he is taken in by the Browns, who find him alone and hungry at Paddington train station. The Browns are a family of four, composed by the sweet Mrs. Brown (Sally Hawkins), an overprotective Mr. Brown (Hugh Bonneville), the pessimistic tween Judy (Madeline Harris), and the curious Jonathan (Samuel Joslin). The Browns live with Mrs. Bird (Julie Walters) who acts as a housekeeper for them. As you can imagine Paddington causes a bit of mayhem in their home, being still very unfamiliar with the human world. His troubles include a memorable bathroom scene, where Paddington becomes accustomed with the likes of toothbrushes and toilets. Uh oh!

The main problem that director Paul King had, when adapting the story, was that the original stories never had a villain, they were just adventures of a stranger in London. However, King solved the problem masterfully by casting Nicole Kidman as the Natural History Museum taxidermist, who is out to stuff poor Paddington. The plot is expertly spun so that the origin story never feels too long or too abrupt. The motivations, reality check, and creativity for the film are also clearly addressed especially when King and his camera focus on a dollhouse in the Browns’ attic. We are completely blown away when the dollhouse opens up to reveal the Browns all going away at their lives in their rooms. The scene almost evoked a Wes Anderson feeling, and as the creative walls were broken and the abstract limits were pushed, comparisons with other directors and films dissipated. The film became a definition itself.  

The acting was perfect for the film; each role was perfectly cast from Peter Capaldi as the next-door neighbor to Jim Broadbent as an antique hat shop owner. Hugh Bonneville perfectly transitioned from his ultra conservative lord in Downton Abbey to a similar but more moderate father role in this film. Mr. Brown is perfect for him at this exact moment between projects. Sally Hawkins plays her motherly role with great passion and warmth, but for some reason I felt that it was a little too sweet for the likes of the environment. While Paddington doesn’t go for a realist approach, nevertheless the whole Brown family evoked a sense of weird yet real. Hawkins gave Mrs. Brown a too kind and affectionate personality, so that for those who were older in the audience, it was harder to buy. Nicole Kidman, on the other hand, hits the marl, as the James Bond-like villain, with an evil cackle and everything. The rest of the cast also is awarded shining scenes where they can dust off their acting skills (or define them in the case of the children). Ben Wishaw in particular was exceptional as Paddington’s voice, it perfectly fit the character and his tone of innocence made us want to hug the bear and take him home ourselves.  

The original script and the incredible diversity of the unique smart jokes allowed for the film to be a great pastime. Even better the film is a perfect length of 95 minutes, which allows us to fully enjoy the sweet and savory marma- I mean film.

  • OVERALL MOVIE RATING 79% 79%

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What’s the most adorable movie ever? Let me know in the comments section.

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