Hugh Bonneville’s (A.K.A Lord Grantham’s) movie career goes from being a man of monuments to a guardian of orphaned bears in the space of 12 months. He furs (natch) rather well as the father of the Brown family in this live-action adaptation Paddington.
The beginning reminded me of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, funnily enough, in that it had Paddington in his natural habitat of ‘Darkest Peru’ with his Auntie Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo, just like Dawn focuses solely on Caesar and his apes for a substantial amount of time at the start.
Mr. and Mrs. Brown (Sally Hawkins from Godzilla and Layer Cake) encounter a lonely but immaculately cute CG’d bear in Paddington Station. Mr. Brown doesn’t want anything to do with him but Mrs. Brown is intrigued by the anthropomorphised bear with impeccable manners, heirs and graces.
So far, so good and so faithful to the original. The controversy comes 20 minutes in when an alien character is introduced. No, not a literal alien but one foreign to the mythology of Paddington: a taxidermist named Millicent (played by the ever-beautiful Nicole Kidman), who wants to stuff the bear. Bearing in mind this is a kid’s flick, the addition of such a hostile character is unnecessary. Just like Postman Pat and the killer robots.
No, we certainly don’t need to see a plump Bonneville performing improbable acrobatics that are disproportionation to his weight, girth and gravity. What we need is plenty of Paddington Bear getting himself effortlessly embroiled in one catastrophe after another. There’s a fair bit of that but I could have done with a couple more scenes of bear chaos. One scene involving an Inspector Gadget-esque arrest is particularly enjoyable.
A slight concern came upon me that film may descend into a tourist advertisement for London (like Sharknado 2 was for New York) but that was just one scene, thank Cribbins. The Peruvian band that turns up round the corner from the Brown’s house are just about the right side of annoying and don’t outstay their welcome.
Taxidermist notwithstanding, Paddington as a film is entertaining for both children and adults alike. Ben Whishaw voices Paddington perfectly and the Browns feel like an authentic family unit who respond in different ways to having a bear in the house.
Director Paul King (Mighty Boosh) has spent his budget wisely and created an entertaining bearscapade.
The film deserves to do well over the festive period, especially seeing as the guy worked with the Boosh. This is the kind of man who knows that cheese is a kind of meat and should be celebrated as such.