“Mrs. Brown says that in London everyone is different, and that means anyone can fit in. I think she must be right – because although I don’t look like anyone else, I really do feel at home. I’ll never be like other people, but that’s alright, because I’m a bear. A bear called Paddington” – Paddington Bear, Paddington (2014)
I do enjoy Paddington. Notice how that’s not in italics? If I refer to the film, it’s in italics. So Paddington as a film isn’t something I enjoy, whereas the character Paddington is. Very simple stuff, you’ll get used to it, otherwise this review will get very confusing very quickly. Regardless of that, there’s a lot to talk about when it comes down to Paddington, it’s an odd little film isn’t it. Honestly I still don’t know what to make of it if I’m honest.
The plot follows titular bear, Paddington (Ben Whishaw), who journeys from Darkest Peru to Great Britain. There he meets Mr. Brown (Hugh Bonneville) and his family. Mary (Sally Hawkins) is an illustrator struggling to find a face for her works hero. They have two children, Judy (Madeleine Brown) and Jonathan (Samuel Joslin). With a supporting cast consisting of Mr. Curry (Peter Capaldi), Mrs. Bird (Julie Walters), Millicent (Nicole Kidman) and even Mr. Gruber (Jim Broadbent), surely things will be pretty good. Well, not exactly.
See my main problem with Paddington is that it tries very hard to be an engaging family film, but it doesn’t go far enough. It hits the spot perfectly in a number of places, but it doesn’t go beyond that. Yes, it’s funny, there are a couple of chuckles to be had but nothing more. The performances are good, but they’re nothing out of the ordinary, a bit cliche if I’m honest. So where Paddington is going wrong for me is that it is engaging enough to be good, but doesn’t risk it by trying anything new. That’s a problem for me, I do expect each and every film to at least try something new. As a whole this film is more than happy to cliche it’s way through the runtime.
A lot of the film is very colourful, and I really liked this. It’s gonna be even better for a kid as well, isn’t it? All of those bright colours will keep them invested. The actual bear himself looks absolutely phenomenal in CGI and really you’d actually think they’d captured a bear. Maybe they did, maybe they actually stuck a coat and hat on a bear, that’s completely possible to some degree. It isn’t but that’s not the point. Paddington actually looks great, pretty much all of the CGI throughout is exceptionally crafted to an impressive standard. Really that’s the only part of the film that is crafted to this extent. Everything else is just sort of there.
Needless to say, there are no performances that stand out, nor are there any that are terrible. Even the child actors are good, but to be fair I recognise Madeleine Brown from Man Down (2013 – Ongoing) so that’s fair enough. Again it’s a lot like A Cock and Bull Story (2005) where it becomes a song and dance of “oh I recognise them”. Peter Capaldi, Matt Lucas and I swear down I saw Matt King briefly as well. Did I conjure that image myself, because I honestly can’t find a single thing of him being in this film. I did a quick search and he is most definitely in this film, I can guarantee it.
There are definitely some funny lines throughout, mostly from Paddington’s misunderstandings of life. Roaring like a bear in the station with Mr. Brown was funny, but that’s just funny in general. Still, the majority of the jokes were very child oriented and went on for far too long. Paddington trying to give a robber his wallet back went on for a good few minutes and by the end of it really it was just tiring. Jokes need to be tethered at times, it was just far too long for it to really make any impact on me, but to be fair this film isn’t aimed at me. What actually is the audience of this film? Most young kids probably don’t remember the Paddington series and probably know him as the fat marmalade bear now.
As far as the cast go, Peter Capaldi gives an interesting performance to say the least. I physically groaned when I saw Matt Lucas on the screen. Nothing against the guy, I just didn’t like him on Doctor Who (2005 – Ongoing). Still, he has a very minor role so no harm done. As I mentioned previously there are some child actors in this film but to be honest they’re pretty good. As a whole the cast works very well together. Hugh Bonneville is great in his role as a grumpy middle classed, middle aged bloke, it works rather well. Nobody is really miscast, with the exception of Nicole Kidman, who really just sounds like she should be somewhere else. There was ten minutes of the film left to go and they were only just going to rescue Paddington. It felt a tad rushed.
Musically the film is pretty solid at least. It’s jolly and upbeat, complementing the overall tone of the film very well. To be honest now that I think about it I can’t really remember much of the films musical score, but that isn’t too much of a problem now is it? As long as it did the job at the time of watching, then that’s fair enough. A film doesn’t have to have memorable music, so long as you can remember enjoying it at the time. Nowhere near the standards of something like The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) but not as generic as See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989).
Still, I can’t really complain, can I? I found this in the kids section of DVDs at a charity shop nearby and paid one whole pound for it. That doesn’t matter though I’m still going to complain about this film aren’t I? When it wants to, Paddington shines through as a colourful and well crafted film that will be a family treat. However on the other hand it’s really just a cast that come together and do nothing for an hour and twenty minutes. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you get at least something out of the experience.
Personally I didn’t like Paddington, but my dad seems to love it and I’ve no clue why. I asked him and he said “It had a good story to it”. Mind of a child that man. Anyways, Paddington is an obvious amount of fun for kids and it does seem like a fairly faulty family comedy. There’s some superb CGI throughout but that isn’t enough for me to recommend this film. You can’t just kill off the Michael Gambon bear in the first five minutes of the film and expect a recommendation.