Director: Paul King
Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters
It's been a while since a kids' film made kids laugh out loud during the jokes, and an adult smile ear to ear with its sheer charm. Either children's movies cater very indefatigably to its target audience, or they kind of forget about the kids and throw in entertainment for adults, or they just get lazy and toss in pop culture references. The new British film 'Paddington' comes as a breath of fresh air with its simplicity, sheer cuteness and its dry Brit humour.
'Paddington'. Pic/Santa Banta
While Indians might not be familiar with the origins of the Paddington Bear, it doesn't really matter whether anyone has read the books by Michael Bond. Paddington, the bear in this film, is the bear equivalent of 'Stuart Little', and indeed this movie has a few things in common with that 1999 Rob Minkoff gem. The film is a mixture between live action and animation, there are themes of adoption, abandonment, survival, unconditional love and an adventure in a big and charming metropolitan city – this time New York is replaced by London. Even the themes of the humans not making a big deal out of an animal being one of them is lifted from Stuart Little. Even if it feels like a repeat, it's all done very well.
'Paddington' is as simple as they come – a bear is adopted by a family in London, while being chased by a villainous taxidermist (played by Nicole Kidman). Along the way he finds a home away from home. It wouldn't have worked if the movie weren't so darn cute. Paddington, the bear himself, is lovable. Voiced by Ben Whishaw he exudes a ton of innocence and goofy charm, as do the human cast in the movie, including Sally Hawkins as the mother and Hugh Bonneville as the father. Kidman, playing against her type is fun – she should really do some more comedic roles. Even visually the film is striking – the exquisite production design makes London look like something out of a fairy tale. There's a terrific sequence where Paddington inadvertently chases a wallet thief, thinking he's dropped his wallet – it's something out of a Mr Bean movie and it's quite spectacular.
Most importantly, the jokes are hilarious. And they work for both kids and their parents. It's also rather funny that despite the presence of three Oscar nominated films, 'Paddington' is the best, and most well made movie to release this week.