Paddington: A British Childhood

[A picture will come as soon as this laptop will allow me to minimise a picture. I don’t want to scare you off with a massive bear taking up my website].

Do you remember Paddington Bear? If you’re from outside the UK, you might react like Nicole Kidman’s agent, who I imagine to have scratched his head in confusion as Nicole skipped around his office like a lamb in springtime. It turned gloomy when she realised she was the villain, or so I heard from an interview with her, as Britain is taken awash with advertisements from the new film Paddington.

If you indeed aren’t in the country of crumpets and tea chicken tikka masala and Stella Artois, Paddington bear is a British child’s icon, about a bear who has come from deepest, darkest Peru, who turns up in Paddington Station, only to be picked up by the Browns family to be taken on many different day-to-day adventures. I also suggest you give Just William a try!

I remember always being fond of the audiobooks and dreaming about that brown bear before I fell asleep. I can already hear the stick I’m going to get from my friends for saying that.

However, when I heard it was going to become a movie, I had my suspicions. Would it hit my nostalgic childhood heart, or would it hit my face in full-blown block-buster style?

To touch on plot… it’s pretty much the same as above. However, you get more back-story about why Paddington left Peru. While there is still an element of ridiculousness, the film has to be based in a fairly realistic modern setting to get away from it’s 50s based source material.

It is added that the bears in Peru learnt English from an explorer, later to be revealed as M. Clyde of the Geographers Guild, who said that they would always be welcome in London, referring to WW2 child evacuees. It is also added that an earthquake has destroyed Paddington’s home, forcing him to move to London. With a real villain, taxidermist Millicent (Nicole Kidman) thrown into the mix, the film takes a turn for the better.

I was pleasantly surprised by the casting in the film. I would say that anyone from Britain might recognise a number of the actors  from different British sitcoms, including Matt King (Peeps ShowStarlings) Dominic Coleman (MirandaTrollied), and Simon Farnaby (The Midnight BeastJam and Jerusalem). Among them was some strong acting ability, a lot of them from the Harry Potter franchise: Julie Waters playing eccentric Mrs Bird and Jim Broadbent laying equally eccentric Mr Gruber. I also have to give credit to Peter Capaldi, playing Mr Curry and Sally Hawkins, playing…

Who am I kidding? The acting talent in this show could sink a boatful of Academy-Award Winners. But before I do move away from acting, we have to talk about Paddington himself. Played by Skyfall‘s Ben Whishaw, he delivers a quaint and amusing voice to the beloved character. I knew that Colin Firth was to play Paddington, by voluntary dismissed himself, so I was particularly impressed with Whishaw, as he began to draw out those nostalgic feelings.

The comedy was typical British humour. It makes fun of stereotypical Britain very well, making characters like Mr Curry a nosey, tacky man who’s sofas are littered with enough crumbs to feed an army of ants. The visit by explorer M. Clyde also helps to make fun of past-Britain. Do you know there are 137 ways to say “it is raining”? Fascinating stuff!

I was quite surprised at a few jabs at movie clichés, like poking fun at the way people turn their backs at what they dislike, and the way documentaries are run. The film made me chuckle at the slapstick of Paddington’s misadventures, sneakily adding them into the over-arching story of finding a home. It’s the type of heart-warming humour that you miss, stuff that you can find in old Charlie Chaplin movies. It added to the charm of the movie.

The animation of Paddington was very good. It worked very well with the surroundings, and clear emotions were shown through his body and facial expressions. There were some nicely done animatics outside of Paddington as well, like the cherry-blossom on the stairwell of the Browns’ house changing in beautiful pink flurries, and the devastation the earthquake does to Paddington’s home.

In conclusion, it is lovely to see that Paddington’s revamp did not sacrifice anything along the way. The dialogue is playful, the humour is sophisticated, yet easily understandable and Paddington is brought to life with a refreshing enthusiasm. A delight to children, a relaxing movie experience for adults, and a nostalgic journey to Paddington lovers.

A special surprise is coming this Christmas.