You could search the globe and go as far as deepest darkest Peru, but you’ll probably never find a family film as good as Paddington. Paul King’s 21st Century update of Michael Bond’s iconic bear glows like his beloved golden marmalade.
Paul King’s film follows the template of Bond’s original tales, which sees the bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) from Peru arrive in Paddington Station with a label around his neck saying ’Please look after this bear. Thank you’. He meets the Brown family (Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Madeline Harris and Samuel Joslin), who take him in as one of their own and name him Paddington. The film throws in the addition of Nicole Kidman’s evil taxidermist, who wants to capture Paddington and stuff him for the Natural History Museum. Filling out the supporting roles is a who’s-who of British character actors – Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon and Peter Capaldi.
Paddington keeps close to Michael Bond’s source material, but it’s not a slave to its post-war mentality (the bear made his debut in 1958). We get to see how he gets his trademark hat, coat and love of marmalade sandwiches but this isn’t done in an eye-rolling way. A proper story is being told here rather than an IP being exploited. The script by Paul King and Hamish McCall holds a mirror up to Britain’s complex immigration issues – of course it’s subtle but it’s definitely there.
The world of Paddington is perfectly realised. It’s set in London, but not the real London. This is a picture postcard version of London that simply doesn’t exist. A shame because in the film it’s a quirky and quaint world – like Mary Poppins meets Wes Anderson. Paddington may be voiced by Q himself, Ben Whishsaw but his body was created by CGI boffins and they’ve done a cracking job in giving him character and a personality. This is what George Lucas wanted way back when he created Jar Jar Binks – a computer generated character that you really care about.
Paddington sets the new gold standard for family films. Fun, heart-warming and entertaining, Michael King’s film treats its audience with respect giving them a well constructed story and interesting characters. Paddington is everything you want in a modern update of a character that on the surface appeared to be old-hat (literally). You’ll watch it and immediately be ready for a sequel.
A few brief behind the scenes bits and pieces from the cast and crew. As with the film – you’re left wanting more.