Genre: Family, Comedy
Director: Paul King
Music: Nick Urata
Cinematography: Erik Wilson
Nostalgia of the original PADDINGTON BEAR series and the beloved novel by Michael Bond aside, Paul King’s PADDINGTON is a trademark Christmas offering from UK, a love letter to London and everything is tailor-made to not cross the borderline of being kids-friendly, but for adult audience who doesn’t grow up with the said bear, the film is generically predictable (the only exception belongs to the yardstick that Londoners never even raise their eyebrows to see a talking bear in front of them) and one might feel a bit disappointed that it couldn’t be more daring or ingenious considering its all-too-cute art productions which resemble lightweight Wes Anderson artworks and a wonderfully anthropomorphic CGI bear named Paddington (voiced by Whishaw).
Opening with a vintage black and white episode of introducing a mysterious bear species in the Peruvian jungle, then, swiftly brings about a radiant jungle view where Paddington lives with his uncle and auntie, until his home-finding trip to London. “Finding home” is the theme of Paddington’s adventure, he meets the Brown Family, the patriarch Henry (Bonneville) is too afraid to venture for the sake of his two children, whilst his wife Mary (Hawkins) is the Good Samaritan, stands by Paddington with firm footing. What happens next is well within our expectation of any member of its kind, the attachment between Paddington and The Browns grows inevitably, then a villainess comes on-board, a bob-haired Nicole Kidman as Millicent, a taxidermist who insists (with a background connection) to capture Paddington to stuff him as a specimen, it is glad to see Nicole back in the villain chair after the ruinous THE GOLDEN COMPASS (2007), and this time, the ship doesn’t sink.
The film never stops to being a winning delicacy if the quaint Anglo-Saxon style and teddy bear is exactly your thing, many whimsical set pieces are between charming (Paddington unwittingly chases a pickpocket) and slightly balmy (Bonneville’s transvestite outfit) and au fond Paddington is just a little foreign boy who happens to be in a bear’s appearance, being ignorant in human society and making mess with his clumsiness. The heightened face-off is very bland as all the violence has been properly tone-downed. But Ben Whishaw’s voice is unambiguously the soul of the movie, sometimes boyishly chirpy, sometimes soothingly touching, consummately nourishes the verve of this brazenly self-indulgent and subtly self-propagating fantasy with winsome veneer.