Paddington had a slightly bumpy ride on the road to production with Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) dropping out from voicing the loveable bear. Ben Whishaw (Skyfall) replaced Firth to bring Paddington to life, and joined the cast consisting of Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge), Peter Calpaldi (Doctor Who), Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) and Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky). The hiccup didn’t affect the quality of the film, and didn’t become a distraction either.
Ben Whishaw’s voice talent brings a polite charm to the character of Paddington, and works well with the background of the bear. Coming from deepest darkest Peru, Paddington learns everything about London from a distance and migrates to England seeking a new home. Nicole Kidman’s character, Millicent, has different plans concerning Paddington’s new home and is appropriately threatening for a PG rated film. Kidman actually had a knife throwing scene remove to avoid being too sinister. Helping Paddington is the Brown Family, with Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins as Mr and Mrs Brown, who have two children that fall in love with Paddington. Peter Calpaldi plays a supporting role of a nosey neighbour who is not impressed by the new guest.
The look and design of Paddington is a triumph, and the technical team behind him were not afraid to tackle complex scenes. Shots with Paddington tackling the air and water were achieved with great effect, and Paddington felt like a real character who could actually change the environment he was in. We were also treated to some excellent shots of London, which manage to show the spectacle of the city from the eyes of a foreigner. The script had a few London in-jokes, the odd bear pun and slapstick humour for kids and adults.
The film keeps the clumsy serendipitous nature of Paddington that we love about him. There are also some great Rube Goldberg machine scenes that keep up the pace and suspense as Paddington maintains his incredible luck. Additionally, this film delivers a clear message on immigration. Paddington attempts to avoid the cliché that being different is normal, and tackles the more relevant issue that the differences between people in London is what makes it the great place it is. In a time where immigration is normally shown in a negative light, the idea that even a bear from Peru can find a home in London leaves you feeling warm and proud.
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