- Nikki Baughan
- 24 November 2014
The beloved bear is brought to the big screen by Paul King's charming adaptations
Ever since his creation in 1958 by author Michael Bond generations of children have grown up with Paddington Bear, so writer-director Paul King (The Mighty Boosh, Bunny and the Bull) faced no small task in bringing the hirsute hero to the big screen. By infusing this traditional tale with his own brand of irreverent humour, however, King has both paid homage to Paddington's roots and made him relevant for a modern audience.
In grainy black-and-white footage, we see an intrepid explorer discovering the rare marmalade-loving, English-speaking bear breed in deepest, darkest Peru. Fast-forward several years, and a young bear journeys to London in search of a new home. Arriving at Paddington station, he is taken in – somewhat reluctantly at first – by the Brown family, but also draws the attention of a villainous taxidermist (Nicole Kidman).
While the moral of this story may be timeless (only by overcoming our differences and helping each other can we find happiness), the film utilises the most modern technology to bring it to life. Paddington is exceptionally rendered in CGI, his flawless interaction with his live-action environment showcased in both the audacious set-pieces and more intimate moments. And voice artist Ben Whishaw (a rather fortuitous eleventh hour replacement for Colin Firth) imbues Paddington with immense charm, bringing just the right mix of bright-eyed innocence and emotional vulnerability.
While Paddington is absolutely the star of the show he is surrounded by an excellent cast: the likes of Kidman, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi and Matt Lucas all having an absolute blast. Their enthusiastic performances are matched by King's smart, knowing script – which includes rapid-fire gags for all ages – and exuberant direction, while Gary Williamson's glorious production design turns London into a whimsical cornucopia of mischief and mayhem. It's a genuine delight.
General release from Fri 28 Nov.