Review: Paddington

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A label placed around Paddington’s neck reads: “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” Initially, this didn’t seem like the case, as the BBFC slapped a PG rating on the marmalade-loving bear’s latest adventure, noting the “dangerous behaviour, mild threat, innuendo and infrequent mild bad language” the film contains. Has director Paul King turned one of the most loveable and iconic characters in British children’s literature into a dangerous, foul-mouthed creature? Far from it.

After an earthquake destroys his home, Paddington – a young Peruvian bear who has a passion for all things British – travels to London in search of a new life. Upon his arrival, Paddington realises that life in the city isn’t what he imagined until he meets the Brown family, who offer him a temporary haven. However, the rare species of bear catches the eye of a taxidermist – who will go to great lengths in order to have Paddington as an attraction in her museum.

Michael Bond’s 1958 creation has brilliantly been brought to life, as Paddington’s humanity, emotion and humour is excellently captured through CGI, all while being dressed in the instantly recognisable red hat and blue duffle coat. This is greatly assisted by the excellent voice acting from Ben Whilsaw (best known for his portrayal of Q in “Skyfall”), whose warming voice is well suited to the bear.

Whilsaw is joined by an all-star cast, which features the likes of Nicole Kidman (Millicent – the taxidermist), Julie Walters (Mrs Bird), Jim Broadbent (Mr. Gruber), Peter Capaldi (Mr Curry) and Matt Lucas (a taxi driver). Not to mention voice work from Michael Gambon (Uncle Pastuzo) and Imelda Staunton (Aunt Lucy). Each of the actors and actresses gives excellent performances in their respective roles.

Director Paul King has previously worked on the likes of Come Fly With Me” and “The Mighty Boosh”, so it comes as no surprise to see that the British humour has been executed tremendously. The precision and timing of the slapstick, as well as the witty one-liners integrated throughout provides laughs aplenty for viewers young and old.

Paddington is a film that displays London at its finest, as the brilliant cinematography ensures each camera shot wouldn’t look out of place on a postcard or in a picture book. This positive depiction of London is evident throughout, as Paddington himself concludes: “In London nobody’s alike, which means everyone fits.” This is reflected within the soundtrack, which is flawlessly integrated into the film with the calypso band making several on-screen appearances.