fish bear out of water jungle tale based on the beloved Michael Bond series of a very friendly talking bear from Peru who often gets into hilarious antics and shenanigans as he attempts to conform to modern English life.
Would you be able to sit through it?: Absolutely! I’ve always had a soft spot for Paddington. I think it was his British-ness that set him apart from other anthropomorphic animals in literature and TV. He was extra polite and congenial and he was always trying so hard to make things work out and get along but always failing. This film adaptation is a hoot. I was nervous really since it was supposed to open here in the states around Thanksgiving but was pushed to dreaded January where most movies go to die. However, it’s gotten great reviews and I agree—Paddington is a delight for both the young and old. Great animation and humor as well as heart.
Any scary/violent parts?: Not really. Nicole Kidman plays out of her usual norm here as a sadistic museum taxidermist bent on capturing Paddington and making him the museum’s newest rare display. We only see Paddington tranquilized and knocked unconscious but the older kiddies may know what’s really in store for our poor bear. There’s also a whisky-drinking contest between the museum guard and Mrs. Bird, the Brown’s nanny, in her attempt to distract the guard. Thought that was a bit odd for a childrens’ movie.
Anything that will screw up your kid’s head?: I’d have to say no. Paddington is as tame a family-feature as any Disney feature. Frozen had more frights with Marshmallow and Anna literally freezing to death. Paddington had liquor and tranquilizer darts. Your kids should be fine and with minimal questions. In fact there’s not even any “over-their-head” gags that are geared only to the adults.
Any lessons to be learned?: Mostly to open your heart to new things is the common theme in Paddington. Paddington moves from his family and home in the jungle of Peru to join the hustle and bustle of London. He also opens up to living with humans as well as the Brown family opening up to him. Mr. Brown is a risk-assessment insurance agent and thus is very rigid with change and possibly dangerous things—like having a bear live in his home. All-in-all, being a kind and friendly person is also a good theme to have in your family feature.
Recommended age: 3. I took both my daughters (5 and a half & 2 and a half) and while the older one sat comfortably and had like 3 questions the whole time, the younger one was a bit squirmy but overall they both had a nice time.
Rent it, buy it or avoid it?: Rent/Buy. I, myself, being both a film collector and Paddington fan will surely buy it to watch again with the family. However, if talking, marmalade-eating bears in London aren’t your bag per se you may just want to see it once but I still highly recommend it for a family night out to the pictures. I’m glad that Paddington finally made it to the big screen and that they didn’t mess with the Paddington formula that has been successful for all these years. I’m also glad they changed his voice from Colin Firth to Ben Whishaw, as Paddington should sound more child-like and innocent. It’s perfect for kids and the grown-ups should have fun as well and if it spawns some sequels that’s not such a bad thing. If the Chipmunks, Smurfs and even Garfield can get sequels than Paddington should too!
Score: 8.5 Hard Stares (out of 10)