Paddington is a delightful family film. I should know, as I’ve seen it roughly 150 times in the last two months, as our son Owen has become a wee-bit obsessed with the cuddly little bloke. This movie really does have it all for the entire family, as children will adore the titular character, and adults will get a giggle out of the human performances from Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, and Nicole Kidman. Meanwhile, everyone will marvel over the animation (in particular the fine details of Paddington’s fur), and it’s great fun to observe how director Paul King pays enough loving homage to the beloved source material while still being able to inject his own brand and style of modern, madcap fun. I didn’t realize just how faithful the filmmakers were being to the original book until I watched a behind the scenes interview, so I respect the film even more, as it never goes FULLY over the top the way certain animated films have a tendency of doing.
The action hijinks is very well directed, the voice performance of Paddington on the part of Ben Whishaw is droll and appropriately low key, and the fabulous production design evoked the storybook quality that makes Wes Anderson’s films so whimsical and charming. And even if the filmmakers felt the need to inject a traditional villain aspect into the story, at least the specifics make contextual sense and actually have something to do with the backstory and not some random series of events that feel manufactured in order to advance the plot. The honest, loving heart of Paddington is contained in this film, as his story has always been about finding family and meeting others who treat you with respect no matter how fuzzy you are behind the ears. Only a curmudgeon wouldn’t be able to smile while watching this cute, endearing movie.
Review by Nick Clement