Paddington is a delightful British comedy about a talking bear from Peru who sneaks onto a ship bound for the UK in order to find the explorer who ‘discovered’ his parents decades before and introduced them to the wonders of marmalade. It sounds outrageous, and it is, but it works because the writing is intelligent, inventive and often very funny (though many in the audience we were with did not seem to get the British style of humour) and because Ben Whishaw’s voice is perfect for Paddington, adding just the right level of urbane sophistication to make the bear absurdly in and out of place in London.
When he gets to London, Paddington finds a home with the eccentric Brown family, though Mr. Brown (played by Hugh Bonneville) isn’t happy about it. Mrs. Brown (Sally Hawkins), however, can’t leave a poor immigrant on the street. Also in the family are two children and Mrs. Bird, a classy housekeeper played by Julie Walters. The kind of misadventures Paddington gets up to in a strange house are fun enough, but this is a suspense comedy, with Nicole Kidman playing the baddie. She’s a taxidermist who wants a stuffed Paddington in her collection. All of the acting is excellent. And did I mention Ben Whishaw’s perfect voice?
The cinematography is beautiful and creative and the score is appropriate. While one could quibble about the lost opportunity for more satire, all in all Paul King has made a perfect warm and witty family film I would recommend to all. Paddington gets a solid ***+. My mug is up.