Tuesday, 6 January 2015



Who honestly expected Paddington to be any good? The modern retelling of a much-cherished children’s tale is always a tricky business. These hallowed texts are protected by a cultural aegis, it seems, often defended with a natural distrust of movie adaptations.

Michael Bond’s stories of a notorious domesticated bear are even more precious due to the sublime illustrations and animations of the books, then later, the televisions series. Surely a cinematic CGI version would merely serve as another disappointing digital airbrushing of an adored character? A strict ‘hands off!’ warning seemed in order. And yet, this gloriously colourful film is the surprise hit of the year.

Suitable for both children and adults in equal measure, the new outing for the Peruvian bear is a jolly feast of smiles and happiness. The sensation of watching it is like being softly cooed by Test Match Special as you chew on toffees in a warm pair of slippers. It really is the pinnacle of reassuring viewing.

When an earthquake devastates his home, a young bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) takes an adventure to London where he hopes to begin a new life. The Brown family take pity on this exiled orphan and allow him into their home. So it is that this misfit causes a stir in the capital, no less than with an obsessed taxidermist (Nicole Kidman).

With a cast this impressive there was no chance of it being anything but marvellous. Julie Walters, Hugh Bonneville and, of course, Jim Broadbent all perform their usual routines. Plus the ever-impressive Sally Hawkins sparkles yet again in a charming role whilst the inclusion of Nicole Kidman as the pantomime villain wins the award for most unusual casting decision of 2014. Her character opens up some dubious publicity for the Natural History Museum, but then, the climax played out in its grand halls is a child-friendly slice of Hitchcockian thrills.

You are never too old to enjoy something sweet. This charming film makes children of us all.


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