[Movie Review] “Paddington” delights families young and old

Paddington arrives. (Yahoo Singapore)
Paddington arrives. (Yahoo Singapore)

Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? Yes.

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? Yes.

Secret ending? No.

Running time: 95 minutes (~1.5 hours)

“Paddington” is an animated comedy, based on the “Paddington Bear” series of children’s books. It follows the adventures of the eponymous bear as he travels to London from darkest Peru, and learns what it means to have a family. It stars Hugh Bonneville (Mr Brown), Sally Hawkins (Mrs Brown),  Nicole Kidman (Millicent), Julie Walters (Mrs Bird), Madeleine Harris (Judy Brown), Samuel Joslin (Jonathan Brown), and Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington.

“Paddington” is a warm family film for all ages. The Brown family come across immediately as familiar archetypes of the typical family, yet possessing enough of their own habits and interests to be interestingly unique characters. Paddington himself might not be a CGI marvel, but he stills draws your immediate empathy with his childlike innocence and genuine desire to help.

Paddington is polite. (Yahoo Singapore)
Paddington is polite. (Yahoo Singapore)


A charming performance from Ben Whishaw as Paddington

Ben Whishaw’s Paddington comes across as distinctly adult but also disarmingly youthful, especially when it comes to his more melancholic musings. Yet this characterisation works, as Paddington comes across as a sincere and honest bear, just that the best of intentions don’t always translate well when it comes to action. His rendition of Paddington is a delightful portrayal of the character, with enough character to differentiate himself from other famous bears (like Pooh).

Nicole Kidman as a campy Millicent

Her over-the-top performance enhances what would otherwise be a bland, boring antagonist, giving her scenes a wicked humour that is fittingly cartoonish (for a children’s film). Millicent might not be the brightest or most evil of villains, but her mercenary style makes her a suitable counterpoint to Paddington.

The Brown family’s quirks and co-operation

In the Third Act, the Brown family’s individual interests and hobbies, which have been set up through the film, finally pay off. Each of their unique skill sets are brought into play to overcome the final obstacle of the movie, and it also pays off the family’s movie-long squabbling. They finally co-operate as a family, thus thematically and visually showing that a family that works together, stays together. Cheesy as it might sound, it works in the context of Paddington’s world.

And just as Paddington needs the Browns to be whole, so do the Browns need Paddington to be complete.

Another well intentioned mishap. (Yahoo Singapore)
Another well intentioned mishap. (Yahoo Singapore)


Paddington’s fur looks awful when wet or in close-ups

Despite Paddington being fairly well animated, you’re strongly reminded that he’s still a computer generated bear when his fur turns wet, or when you see close ups of Paddington. There’s still a raw artificiality when his animation model is subject to abuse or scrutiny, and the film could have done well to avoid such situations.

London awaits. (Yahoo Singapore)
London awaits. (Yahoo Singapore)

“Paddington” is a charmingly written and lovingly shot comedy with a lot of heart. It serves as a reminder of the importance of family, especially during this holiday season, and will delight family members, young and old.

“Paddington” opens in cinemas 11 December, 2014 (Thursday).

This review was also published on Yahoo Movies Singapore.

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