Review: Paddington (2014)

Director: Paul King
Screenwriters: Paul King, Hamish McColl
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Ben Whishaw, Julie Walters, Nicole Kidman
Genres: Comedy, Children/Family
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Release Dates: 1/16/15 (Theatres); 4/28/15 (DVD); 11/30/16 (Streaming)
Runtime: 1h 35min 
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Where to Watch: Rent/Buy

I didn’t watch the Paddington films until recently, and in quick succession, as I was so taken with the first one that I had to see the second one (and am now eagerly anticipating a third film). Strangely, I reviewed Paddington 2 first, although it doesn’t really matter; it helps to have seen the first film before watching the 2nd, as the first introduces you to the character of Paddington and the Brown family, with whom he ends up living. 

Paddington is, like its sequel, extraordinarily entertaining, funny, heartwarming, and uplifting — that is, if you don’t enjoy it, then there’s clearly something wrong with you (sorry not sorry). What’s not to like about a talking bear who’s adorably clumsy and good-natured? In this film, the villain is played by Nicole Kidman, in a ridiculous wig, and who is clearly having a blast in this type of role. Her performance is over-the-top, but that’s the point. (Side note: Funny coincidence that the villains in both movies end up co-starring in a miniseries [The Undoing]!). The rest of the adult cast — Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, and Julie Walters — are great, too, and I was happened they all returned for the sequel. 

Also, like the sequel, it’s very self-aware, a trait you don’t always find in children’s movies. (Though, to be fair, this is also a children’s movie for adults, if that makes any sense). A great example of this is when a driver hears the phrase “bear left” on his GPS, and Paddington the bear is literally seen on his left. These films know how crazy they are, and that’s a good thing. Who would have thought that the film adaption of Paddington the bear — a beloved children’s book character — would be so enjoyable and well-crafted?