The simplest way to describe this movie as, whilst not without flaws, it is a perfect, light-weight, heart-felt family movie. The obvious story of Paddington from deepest darkest Peru to London, it had me chuckling throughout and, generally, enjoying myself.
Paul King (known for The Mighty Boosh) takes the directing duties. I have to say I wasn’t bowled over by some of the camera work, slightly floaty and twisting the camera sometimes felt like he was trying to convey an LSD trip, something which isn’t in the movie. Unless it was and I was tripping…
King also wrote the movie alongside Hamish McColl (Johnny English Reborn and the forthcoming Dad’s Army movie). The writing is good, the pace is upbeat and the low, sad moments don’t take long so the children won’t be upset too much. There’s lots of funny touches, the daughter learning Chinese with some interesting phrases to learn and more than a nod or two to other films: Indian Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean which keeps the enjoyment level up.
The movie has a lot of English stars; Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins take the reigns as the father and mother respectively, of the family, not the bears, that falls to Michael Gambon and Imelda Staunton. Ben Wishaw provides the voice of Paddington after Colin Firth, the original choice, left saying he couldn’t find the right voice. Then you have: Matt Lucas, Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi, Jim Broadbent and a whole host more.
All perform admirably although the characters are a little ‘as you’d imagine’, stroppy teenage daughter, over-bearing father etc, etc. There’s even a, very obvious, cameo from the original creator of Paddington Bear, Michael Bond.
The bad guy (or woman in this case) falls to an American (perhaps casting directors on each side of the pond are told to cast Brits in Hollywood movies and American’s in English movies as the bad guys?), Nicole Kidman. Kidman is very good in the role though she did remind me a lot of Glenn Close playing Cruella De Vil in 101 Dalmations. This is apparently the first time her children will have seen her in a movie although they were mortified to learn she was the villain!
I would like to say the movie is quintessentially British but unfortunately it misses the mark on that front: red phones boxes, double decker buses, black cabs and copious shots of the Shard and St Pauls Cathedral means it can, at times, feel more like a visit London advert. Also, why do they insist on making it snow in London? It never snows in London and if it does it just turns to slush and people moan.
Anyway, those few minor gripes aside (as I said at the top, I realise I’m not the target audience here), this is a lovely film, well made, well-acted and the perfect running time at around one and a half hours. I’ve no doubt we’ll be seeing more of Paddington on the big screen.