Bright and breezy ‘Paddington’ a cuddly joy

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Wednesday, January 14, 2015 1:26pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Adopting a bear is not recommended as a real-world option, even if the bear is small and cute and stranded on the platform at a London train station. Make a note of this.

In the non-real world, the concept of bear adoption has worked out just fine for Michael Bond, the English author of the “Paddington” stories. (He’s still around, age 89.) Since debuting in 1958, his books about the amiable bear from “darkest Peru” have been consistently popular with kids and grown-ups alike.

Paddington has popped up as a TV character before, but — somewhat surprisingly, given the success rate of films based on familiar kid-friendly characters — not in a movie.

“Paddington” rectifies this omission. And this mostly British production is a winningly bright and funny feature, as befits the lovable main character.

It’s a live-action film, although Paddington is a computer-generated bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw). After a prologue in Peru, we travel with our ursine hero as he journeys to England and is adopted on the train platform by the Brown family.

Although the Brown children consider Paddington awesome, and Mrs. Brown (Sally Hawkins) is empathetic, it takes a while for Mr. Brown (Hugh Bonneville, from “Downton Abbey”) to come around.

Paddington floods the upstairs bathroom. He incurs the distrust of neighbor Mr. Curry (Peter Capaldi, of “Dr. Who”). He sticks toothbrushes in his ears because he’s not sure what else toothbrushes would be for.

And he comes to the attention of a nasty taxidermist, played by Nicole Kidman (who appears to be having a fun time). Why does this happen? The movie needed a story of some kind. Don’t get overly worried.

Director Paul King maintains the breezy tone and the human actors are likable. There are some notable steals from Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” especially in the way Paddington scarfs up his beloved marmalade sandwiches, but it’s forgivable.

Paddington himself is an impressive creation, starting with Whishaw’s understated vocal performance. At this point in film technology, the seamlessness of how facial expressions and body language can be constructed is easily forgotten while you’re watching a film. But we should remind ourselves to be wowed. Even the marmalade sandwiches look convincing.

“Paddington” (3 stars)

A winningly bright and funny film about the beloved bear, rendered here in computer animation amid a live-action cast of humans (led by Hugh Bonneville and Nicole Kidman). The adventures are silly and Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is lovable as ever.

Rating: PG, for subject matter

Showing: Alderwood, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Pacific Place, Woodinville, Blue Fox Drive-In, Cascade Mall

Talk to us

More in Life

Sam Bowles records the run off the water from a chalk drawing with friend and co-artist, Rhyanna Mercer, Tuesday afternoon in Everett, Washington on May 10, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Jackson High’s global TikTok star is chalk full of ideas

Sam Bowles, 18, uses vibrant videos and social media fame to raise awareness of autism.

The signature retro VW bus is on display at the Lamb & Co. home decor store Saturday afternoon in Snohomish, Washington on January 8, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
This Snohomish store has the goods from HGTV’s ‘Unsellable House’

Take home the design and decor savvy of hometown real estate twins Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis.

The 2022 Infiniti QX60 Sensory has seating for seven. Heated outboard second-row seats and power-return third-row seats are standard equipment. (Manufacturer photo)
Infiniti QX60 Sensory model doesn’t play second fiddle

The new Autograph version tops the 2022 lineup, but this previous headliner holds its own.

Caption: Originally published in The Weekly Herald, “I Brake for Moms” has been running for ten years.
Ten years of columns later, a celebration of place, journalism

Jennifer Bardsley reflects on writing 520 installments of “I Brake for Moms.”

Joel Smallbone, left, and Luke Smallbone, right, of the group for King & Country, performs during the Dove Awards on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

The award-winning Christian pop duo For King & Country performs in Everett on Saturday.

Bailey Hendrickson, owner of Adorable Potato Creations, with one of her specialty plushies called Totally Normal Non Suspicious Duck on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
This self-taught seamstress crafts cute and cuddly plushies

Everett’s Bailey Hendrickson sells homemade stuffed animals and art under the name Adorable Potato.

The keys to coping with an inevitability of life: worry

Be prepared, have realistic expectations, and be confident in your inner strength and resources.

Hagia Sophia, in Istanbul—for centuries the grandest place of worship in all of Europe.
Strolling Istanbul, one of the world’s timeless great cities

It’s proof that traditional cultures are things to value and preserve, not stifle with modernity.

Help! My all-inclusive hotel in Mexico is only half-inclusive

When Michael O’Connor books an all-inclusive resort in Mexico through Priceline, he discovers it’s only half-inclusive. How can he fix that?

Most Read