I don’t know what it is about teddy bears, but I am one of the scores of adults who remain susceptible to their vulnerable charm.
As a child, Michael Bond’s story of how the homeless bear was befriended at Paddington Station by the Browns and taken to their home was the first book I ever read. I was enchanted by it – just as I have been by Paul King’s new screen adaptation of it.
It begins in grainy B&W with the back-story describing how Paddington’s aunt and uncle were discovered in Peru by a British geographer, who named them Lucy and Pastuzo, ‘after an exotic wrestler that I met in a bar’.
We then skip to the luxurious CGI of the bears’ idyllic life in the jungle, which was brought to a tragic end by an earthquake.
From there it is to England, where Lucy has sent Paddington to hopefully find the explorer who first made contact with them.
Essential in any such movie that has real people acting with fantasy characters is the suspension of disbelief – if you can’t accept that Paddington is a true being then the race is lost before it’s properly begun.
I had no problem at all in seeing the three-foot-six, golden-haired creature as a living thing.
Assisting greatly in the necessity of self-deception is the beautiful picture-book art direction by Steven Lawrence, who manages to create a London that is simultaneously olde-worlde and twenty-first century.
Playing the wicked taxidermist who would have her horrible way with Paddington, Nicole Kidman is probably the main drawcard for Australian viewers, but it is Sally Hawkins – petite and spirited – who steals the show as the mother of the Brown household.
Paddington himself is easy to love and his misadventures are great fun – the calamitous sequence of events that pile up after he first enters the Browns’ bathroom is hilarious.
This is an adorable film with a message of acceptance that should be heeded by everyone – young and old.
~ John Campbell