Friday, 17 April 2015


Out now on Blu-ray and DVD, is Paddington worth your time? Or is it another Yogi Bear?

Firstly, let’s go back to November 2014. Before Paddington was released, the BBFC had to classify it - as they do every film. Paddington was rated PG. No surprise there, really. However, the BBFC stated this was for ‘dangerous behaviour, mild threat, mild sex references [and] mild bad language’. SEX references?! Michael Bond, creator of Paddington, was ‘totally amazed’ by this classification. Rightly so! This isn’t Fifty Shades of Paddington. Paddington doesn’t take young women into his Red Room of Marmalade! In any case, the BBFC reworded the certificate advice from ‘sex reference’ to ‘innuendo’. They also made it clear that the ‘mild bad language’ was just ‘a single mumbled use of the word ‘bloody’’. My goodness. An innuendo and a mumbled use of ‘bloody’! What a disgusting, sordid, depraved little film.  

Not really! Paddington is absolutely delightful – don’t worry, there’s nothing here to taint your innocent mind and fill you with evil! I confess, I don’t have a huge relationship with Paddington Bear. My childhood was spent primarily with Jim Henson’s creations, from Sesame Street to The Muppets. I may have had a couple of the books but he’s not a character I hold dear to the heart of my inner child. I went into this film, potentially unlike many, without any fear of leaving angry about what they did to MY Paddington. But I can confidently say that even if you’re a devout worshipper of the little bear, there’s A LOT to like in this lovely film.

For those of you who don’t know, Paddington tells the story of a big-hearted marmalade-loving bear from the forests of ‘Darkest’ Peru who goes on a great adventure to London in search of a new home. Upon arrival to London, our hero is taken in by the dysfunctional Brown family who subsequently name him after the train station they found him at – Paddington. How lovely. But wait! The patriarch of the family doesn’t want Paddington to stay! And oh no, what’s this? An evil taxidermist who wants to capture and stuff Paddington?!

I did feel like the plot got a little bit…much. The fish-out-of-water stuff in the first half was great – Paddington (voiced with an adorable innocence and vulnerability by Ben Whishaw) has great chemistry with all of his human co-stars, especially aforementioned patriarch Mr. Brown (Hugh Bonneville). But I found myself losing interest at some of the rather over-the-top action and tension of the second half with Nicole Kidman’s villain. Whilst it lent itself to some great humour, particularly with Peter Capaldi’s slightly sexually perverted character, it all felt a little tedious and predictable. Understandably it’s there for the kids – children understand the narrative structure better with ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’. But I could’ve easily watched a whole film of Paddington just trying to understand city life. There’s an excellent scene on the London Underground which is making me chuckle just thinking about it. Oh, Paddington.

Regardless of this small quibble, Paddington really feels like a mature, well-made film. Granted, it has moments of immaturity for the children. But there’s a very Wes Anderson-esque vibe to some of the humour and cinematography that reminded me in particular of The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic and Moonrise Kingdom. It wasn’t dumbed down or cheesy in the way of other human/CGI children’s films of late such as the abysmal Smurfs reboot.

Nick Urata provides a brilliant score that adds to the delightful old-fashioned feel of the film. It’s this feel that really helps the film excel. The pacing, the narrative structure, the colour, the humour…everything. It harks back to the good old days of family films, and believe me when I say that this film has something for everyone. Hey parents of the world, I promise you’ll enjoy this. I know you’re probably anxious to sit down with this, but it’s honestly worth your time. It’s so much better than I could’ve ever hoped. Similar to The Lego Movie and even Adventure Time, Paddington is stuffed with quick-fire, sharp, bizarre humour. It’s impossible to not chuckle. It’s just such a delightful film.

Everybody who saw it has probably repressed it by now, but do you remember 2010’s Yogi Bear reboot? That was a perfect example of how NOT to make a film about a food-loving hat-wearing CGI bear. Rest assured, lovers of food-loving hat-wearing CGI bears! Order has been restored. Paddington is wonderful. You know what? This is a difficult film to review from a ‘grown-up’ point of view. I suppose all that is left to say is this. Watching it made me feel like a kid again, like no other contemporary kids film has. It made me forget all my troubles, all the bad things in the world, all the grief that comes with growing up. Within the first few minutes, I was a child again.

It also made me very proud to be British. Bravo, Paddington. Bravo indeed old chap, 5/5.


Sam Love

Paddington at CeX

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