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

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Life

Camp Fire attendees pose after playing in the water. (Photo courtesy by Camp Fire)
The best childcare in Snohomish County

You voted, we tallied. Here are the results.

Mukilteo Police Chief Andy Illyn and the graphic he created. He is currently attending the 10-week FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. (Photo provided by Andy Illyn)
Help wanted: Unicorns for ‘pure magic’ career with Mukilteo police

“There’s a whole population who would be amazing police officers” but never considered it, the police chief said.

To most, tiles are utilitarian. To some, they’re a sought-after art form.

Collectors particularly prize tiles made by early 20th century art potteries. This Wheatley piece sold for $216 at auction.

Spring plant sales in Snohomish County

Find perennials, vegetable starts, shrubs and more at these sales, which raise money for horticulture scholarships.

beautiful colors of rhododendron flowers
With its big, bright blooms, Washington’s state flower is wowing once again

Whether dwarf or absolutely ginormous, rhodies put on a grand show each spring. Plus, they love the Pacific Northwest.

Whidbey duo uses fencing to teach self-discipline, sportsmanship to youth

Bob Tearse and Joseph Kleinman are sharing their sword-fighting expertise with young people on south Whidbey Island.

Craig Chambers takes orders while working behind the bar at Obsidian Beer Hall on Friday, April 12, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Obsidian Beer Hall takes over former Toggle’s space in downtown Everett

Beyond beer, the Black-owned taphouse boasts a chill vibe with plush sofas, art on the walls and hip-hop on the speakers.

Glimpse the ancient past in northeast England

Hadrian’s Wall stretches 73 miles across the isle. It’s still one of England’s most thought-provoking sights.

I accidentally paid twice for my hotel. Can I get a refund?

Why did Valeska Wehr pay twice for her stay at a Marriott property in Boston? And why won’t help her?

How do you want your kids to remember you when they grow up?

Childhood flies by, especially for parents. So how should we approach this limited time while our kids are still kids?

Dalton Dover performs during the 2023 CMA Fest on Friday, June 9, 2023, at the Spotify House in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

The Red Hot Chili Pipers come to Edmonds, and country artist Dalton Dover performs Friday as part of the Everett Stampede.

Lily Gladstone poses at the premiere of the Hulu miniseries "Under the Bridge" at the DGA Theatre, Monday, April 15, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Mountlake Terrace’s Lily Gladstone plays cop in Hulu’s ‘Under the Bridge’

The true-crime drama started streaming Wednesday. It’s Gladstone’s first part since her star turn in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.