Movie Review: Paddington (2014) Ben Whishaw, Nicole Kidman

Paddington dog must be carried movie still

The iconic bear from the classic children’s books has found a home in this CGI era

I have to admit, when I first saw the trailer, I thought this was yet another bad idea to adapt a classic children’s character into a live action feature film, and that it’s going to be as lame as the film adaptations of The Grinch, The Smurfs, Garfield, The Chipmunks, etc., but surprisingly, I was wrong, and the childhood of many are not ruined this time.

Directed and co-written by Paul King (Bunny and the Bull), this debut feature film of Paddington is partially faithful to the origin story of Michael Bond’s children’s books in the 50s where the marmalade-loving Peruvian bear is sent to London by his Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) to find a new home and is offered assistance when the Brown family finds him alone at the train station he’s named after.

Paddington bear movie meme

The children’s book logic and elements are retained. Most jokes are based on Paddington’s innocent nature, unfamiliarity to the city and misunderstandings that stumble him into mishaps and chaos, and despite being somewhat predictable, it’s not over the top and it’s effectively funny at most parts. While Paddington’s special “hard stare” and the mean and bad-tempered neighbour Mr. Reginald Curry (Peter Capaldi) are subtly featured, I’m not sure if all fans would accept the death of the character Uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon) and the new addition of the rather cliched heartless animal-hunting villain named Millicent (Nicole Kidman) although these are not without purpose to the story.

With splendid CGI and animatronics work, Paddington is brought to real life and done justice along with the help of very committed performances by the actors. He’s cuddly and adorable, and it sounds charming with the voice by Ben Whishaw (Cloud Atlas, Skyfall). Mr. and Mrs. Brown played by Hugh Bonneville (The Monuments Men, Downton Abbey TV series) and Sally Hawkins (Godzilla, Blue Jasmine) respectively are so convincing on screen that the audience might actually think that the bear is really there in every scene. Nicole Kidman, though, I guess she’s just there to look bitchy as the antagonist who’s only competent whenever it’s convenient for the story.

Nicole Kidman Paddington Millicent still

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Of course, the film does have issues, suffering from formulaic plot, predictable ending, weak moral values and lack of emotional attachment. The relationship between him and the Browns aren’t strongly developed and therefore his place in the human family isn’t exactly earned. However, it is what it is, a very lighthearted holiday season comedy for the whole family with hilarious humour (British, for a change) that both kids and adults can appreciate and laugh at together, and ultimately, leave the cinema with a joyful feeling.

What I would’ve named the film: “Is That the Bear from the Gift Shops & Children’s Sections?: The Movie”

Malaysia censorship: Too clean for our beloved local film censorship board to care.

Second opinion: My girlfriend loved it, praised the CGI and said that she was even touched by a scene.

Verdict: A good family comedy to kick off the year-end holiday mood.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Paddington bear movie meme

Check out Paddington’s trip around KL.

Paddington malaysia movie posterBased on: “Paddington Bear” children books by Michael Bond
Country / language: UK and France / English

Genre: Family comedy
Running Time: 95 minutes
Director: Paul King
Screenwriter: Paul King, Hamish McColl
Cast: Ben Whishaw, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters

Malaysia Release Date: 11 December 2014
Rated: P13
Local Distributor: TGV Pictures
Production: Heyday Films, StudioCanal

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