Film #157: Paddington (2014)

PaddingtonDirector: Paul King
Language: English plus some Chinese
Length: 95 minutes
Watched on: 14 July 2015 (4 of 4 on my flight back to Japan)

This was the final film that I watched on the way back to Japan, at which point I hadn’t slept much and we were on the final leg of our trip over here. I picked it as it had been well-acclaimed on its release, and because I used to be a fan of Paddington as a toddler – that said, I can’t recall any details about it from my childhood except that he’s a bear, and various phrases like “from deepest darkest Peru” come floating out of the ether on cue if I hear them again.

The movie starts with Paddington leaving Peru for London in search of the bright lights and big city. He’s instantly disappointed because nobody has time for him, but is taken in by a kindly mother, played by Sally Hawkins, and named Paddington after the station. Her husband doesn’t like this, but the two children welcome him in with wide arms. Antics ensue throughout.

As an adaptation of a cartoon, the film has a cartoonish sensibility about it: colours are bold, character motivations are simple, and the performances are very physical and slapstick. At the same time, it manages to narrowly avoid being pigeonholed as a children’s film, as it’s often laugh-out-loud funny, and was by far the most enjoyable of the four films I watched on that flight. For that I commend it highly. And while the characters generally fit into a small number of archetypes, they weren’t boring, and there was ample room for development.

The animation of Paddington and other bear characters was also realistic – or as realistic as you can be for a talking bear – which also helps a lot. I’m happy to say the movie lived up to expectations, and I feel like I’ve discovered a lost part of my childhood with it.

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