Friday, May 22, 2015

Paddington - a delightful adventure

movie review


Starring: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, and Nicole Kidman
Director: Paul King
Tagline: A little bear will make a big splash.

Like everyone else, I am familiar with the story of how Michael Bond created the character of Paddington after spotting and purchasing a lonesome teddy bear from a London store. However, I didn’t really know what to expect from the recent Paddington film, simply because the anthropomorphic bear didn’t hold much relevance for me, as I didn’t get a chance to read his stories when I was growing up and didn’t, therefore, form a meaningful connection with the character. Now, after watching the movie, I am fairly convinced that my childhood was a complete travesty; I clearly missed out on one of the most delightful kids’ series ever written, and I now demand a childhood do-over so that I can rectify this appalling oversight, restore sanity, and experience the magic of Paddington as a kid.

Yes, the movie is that charming.

The film that blends live action and animation begins in darkest Peru, where a little bear (voiced very amiably by Ben Whishaw), lives with his aunt and uncle (voiced by Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon), who were once visited by a British geographer (portrayed by Tim Downie), who introduced them to the deliciousness of orange marmalade and the allure of London. After an unexpected tragedy befalls the bears’ house, young Paddington is sent to the English capital with the hope of finding a new home.

Things don’t get off to a promising start, but eventually, the accident prone Paddington is temporarily taken in by the Brown family - parents Henry (Hugh Bonneville) and Mary (Sally Hawkins), their children Judy (Madeleine Harris) and Jonathan (Samuel Joslin), and their housekeeper Mrs. Bird (Julie Walters) - till they can find a place for him to live permanently, potentially with the explorer who visited the bears and invited them to his homeland; only they have no idea who he was or how to find him. Meanwhile, a museum taxidermist Millicent (Nicole Kidman) becomes aware of Paddington’s presence in London, and sets out to hunt him down.

Crazy hijinks ensure, as the film offers zany antics and slapstick humour (which will delight younger viewers), along with the message of respect and compassion (which will leave everyone with something to think about, although some jaded viewers might find its unsubtle take on immigration a bit heavy-handed). The characters win you over immediately from the very start, thanks to the film’s charm-drenched execution and likable cast. Paddington himself is beautifully rendered, and a cameo by author Michael Bond also makes a sweet nod to the story’s origin.

On the whole, this family friendly adventure is fun and enjoyable. Its whimsical twists and turns will not only entertain its audience, but hopefully also inspire them to have a kinder, more empathetic view of those around them. Oh, and it will probably leave you with a hankering for marmalade; it might be prudent to prepare a sandwich in advance!

- By S.A.

Us Magazine, The News - 22nd May, 2015 *

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