Sometimes the right pieces have to fall into place for something to be magic, even if it takes decades. That could easily be said about the first real big screen movie featuring that little Peruvian bear from the children's books that we all love, Paddington.
Michael Bond created the character of Paddington decades ago and given what producer David Heyman (the Harry Potter movies) and writer-director Paul King have done with Bond’s bear -- across the board -- it is a match made in heaven.
That is no truer than with the cast. Ben Whishaw (Skyfall) voices the beloved character and brings him to life in a manner that even our imaginations could never have dreamt of. And the parents of the family that Paddington finds a temporary (or permanent?) home with are impeccably cast as well, Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins as Mr. and Mrs. Brown.
As teased in the Paddington trailer, we first meet the little guy in the Peruvian forest where he's being taken care of by his aunt and uncle, who years before were visited by a British explorer and promised a warm place to stay in London should they ever want to visit. They learned English from him, have a love of tea and most importantly, adore marmalade!
When disaster hits their jungle, Paddington takes a ship ride to merry old London and is completely lost and alone in a cold and rainy city until he winds up at Paddington station and runs into the Browns.
We don’t want to give away any more of this charming story other than to let you know that the drama and suspense, and some of the delightful humor, arrives courtesy of Nicole Kidman’s Millicent. She is a taxidermist and has spent her life looking for the rarest of bears, the Peruvian, to stuff and hang as her ultimate trophy. Guess who has come to town?!
Kidman could not have been better cast as well. She has an utter blast portraying the villain in this family film, ever aware of not going too far. But, she goes more than far enough to scare Paddington and all those who get in her way. We haven't seen her have this much fun onscreen in some time!
Paddington has just the right touches of everything that makes a family movie great. That’s the thing. It’s a movie for every member of the clan. There aren’t just jokes and heartwarming moments for dad, mom and each child. The themes, laughs, and emotional pull strings are universal. In fact, this is a family film that the family will want to see over and over.
We can tell you right now that even though its home video release is months to a year off, this will immediately become one that families will own so that they can do just that -- enjoy it again and again.
There are any number of avenues that King could have gone down to tell his story. But Paddington works because he chose all the right notes to hit throughout. His ebbs and flows of story, emotion and visual eye candy are simply impeccable.
Already a BAFTA nominee for Best Screenplay, the film is a smash in the film’s “native” country and we suspect it will be here and all over the globe for that matter.
See, that’s the other universal thing about the film, our Paddington review can report. It transcends culture and citizenry. This isn’t just an English speaking country movie. As the books are, and have been for decades, Paddington is a gift for the entire world.