PADDINGTON Movie Review – Starts 2015 Off Right

I have to admit that while watching the uninspired trailer for the new film PADDINGTON, opening Friday, January 16, my initial thought was, “this might be a movie to skip.”  Fortunately for moviegoers, the filmmakers had something better in mind than the ads portrayed.  PADDINGTON is a heartwarming family film that, at times, reminded me of Chris Noonan’s wonderful 1995 movie, Babe.  If this is an example of the quality we should expect from the films of 2015, than we may be in for a wonderful year at the cinema.  Continue reading for our spoiler-free PADDINGTON movie review.

An effective adaptation of a series of books by Michael Bond, PADDINGTON tells the story of a young Peruvian bear that travels to London in search of a home.  Upon arrival, he meets the Brown family who welcome him temporarily into their home, while he searches for a long-lost friend and attempts to thwart an evil taxidermist.

Paddington Poster

Writer/Director Paul King pulls no punches with his very smart and funny script about the true meaning of “family.”  Feeling no need to talk down to the children in the audience, King gives us one of those rare live action family films that stands out from among the rest.  From the inspired opening prologue, straight through to the final fade out, moviegoers will find themselves doing a little more than smiling.  They will be laughing out loud.  King’s use of both visual and verbal gags is incredibly effective, while never distracting from the emotional moments that tug at our heartstrings.

Paddington

The emotion that resonates from much of the film comes from the use of its superb cast. Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Samuel Joslin and Madeleine Harris play the family that welcome Paddington into their lives.  They all handle their characters with an incredible amount of charm and grace.  The family never seems artificial and as an audience member you will find yourself wanting to join Paddington, as he slowly becomes a part of their lives.

As for the title role, Paddington (Ben Whishaw) is a charming character, with an innocent demeanor that works on our emotions.  The CG effects are exceptional and Paddington’s interactions with the real life actors are seamless and believable.  This is because King has written characters that, even if they do live in a fantasy world where people don’t seem shocked by their chance encounter with a talking bear, are allowed to come to life with real emotions that everyone watching will be able to relate to.

Paddington

Julie Walters, Peter Capaldi and Jim Broadbent also give exceptional performances, each bringing a true originality to their supporting characters.  This allows them to stand alongside the main cast, instead of falling into the background where they can easily be forgotten.

Paddington

Nicole Kidman’s Cruella De Ville type villain, Millicent, is probably the only weak link in the film.  Kidman gives her all, hamming it up as best as she can, but unfortunately Millicent really has very little purpose.  Her presence seems to only exist because the film needs a villain and I wish that they had done a little more with her.

Cinematographer Erik Wilson’s visuals are first-rate and the old-fashioned look of the film helps to set the mood, while Nick Urata’s musical score is just perfect at setting the tone.

Paddington

PADDINGTON starts 2015 off right.  It’s a charming film that will have both kids and adults entertained throughout its 95 minute running time.  If I have one real complaint, it would be with the release date.  Films in January have a tendency to be quickly forgotten.  Yet, if this film had come out in 2014, it would have definitely been on my list of favorite family films for the year.

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About Mark Oguschewitz

Mark Oguschewitz moved to Los Angeles, California after graduating with a film degree from Columbia College in Chicago, Ill. Pursuing a career in the industry, Mark became an award winning freelance editor. He is also known for being the creative consultant for the podcast "Skywalking through Neverland" and co-host of the Podcast "Talking Apes TV." Mark's short film "Gourmet" took the Best Micro-Short honor at the International Horror and Sci-Fi film festival in 2007. His spare time is all about movies. It's not just entertainment, but has become more of a real passion, as he tries to see everything he can. Art house or Blockbuster – It doesn't matter, he loves them all.