Paddington, the hit film directed by Paul King, has been in the box office top five for weeks. It shows that a family that welcomes life reaps many blessings, in spite of and even because of all the perceived inconveniences that come with it. Selflessness and heroic generosity as Paddington Bear illustrates, result in greater love and a stronger family. The film does justice to the vision of the book author, Michael Bond, whose lovable character has stolen the hearts of children for over half a century and will reach even more fans through this sure-to-become-a-classic, big-screen version.
The film begins deep in Peru, where expeditionist Montgomery Clyde (Tim Downie), trains two bears in British customs: the English Language and various Anglo traditions, including the making of Orange Marmalade. Time elapses in the jungle, and this training sticks with the two smarter-than-it-seems bears. Enter the sweet and loving, yet accident prone Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) who is brought up in a proper English manner by these two bears who raise him to be a polite, big hearted and oh so British Paddington Bear.
After Paddington sufficiently steals viewers’ hearts, a traumatizing event rips his family apart. In search of a new home, young Paddington travels to London. Finding himself lost and alone at Paddington Station, and waiting for a helping hand, Paddington starts to see that city life in London was not nearly all that it was cracked up to be. Just then, Paddington is found by the very loving Mary Brown (Sally Hawkins), her rigid husband (Hugh Bonneville), and two teen children (Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin). Intrigued by the label around his neck (‘Please look after this bear. Thank you.’) by his politeness, his thoughtfulness, and unique demeanor – I mean, how often does one find a bear that can talk in the middle of a train station – the Browns offer Paddington a temporary place to stay until he can find a home . The determined Paddington strives to find his new home, and in the process finds that a home isn’t only a place to live. It is a place of rest and order. It is a haven in the big city and the potentially dangerous characters that live therein such as Millicent (Nicole Kidman), an unscrupulous taxidermist who relentlessly pursues Paddington.
But as the movie progresses, the Brown family, whom Paddington has strengthened and blessed becomes a stronger unit, a force to be reckoned with, and (Spoiler Alert) the very haven he had sought when he came London.
Paddington is quality, wholesome family entertainment. As a mother of 3 little ones under the age of five, it is always a gamble to risk ten dollars going to the movies with a toddler who might cause a ruckus to a fellow viewer. However my precocious 5 year old girl was riveted – as was her 4 year-old sister. My 20-month-old music and gadget loving toddler-boy was engaged with the film’s colorful visuals and beautiful score; other than a prevention of climbing the seats to play peek-a-boo with another spectator – he required minimal motherly intervention. My husband, an avid book reader, moviegoer, and harsh critic of all things story was laughing out loud at all the punch lines. As for Mom’s verdict – there was never a time when I asked myself if my smart daughter could understand any offensive double entendres. I would say the risk was worth the price of admission.
Paddington, the movie, shows family as a haven from potential threats of the big bad world that surrounds us, but even more a place of love and acceptance, the kind of place we hope that every child and bear could experience.