Upon my family’s recent December trip to London we couldn’t help notice the outpouring of love and chatter about the bear that’s grabbed the hearts of both young and old, while somehow crossing multi-generations of time. I’m talking about Paddington the bear: the furry brown bear with the red rain hat and blue duffle coat that I read about as a kid. I’m not unique as many children before and after me have also read the many books, and continue to carry the adorable teddy bear in their arms. This is one bear that’s stood the test of time from boys and girls, and seems to hold a special place in the hearts of many adults. From chats with our Uber driver to Paddington statues erected all over the city, London has experienced Paddingtonmania showing their love and support for the new film. My family and I could not resist taking a break from our holiday as we sat amongst a cheery crowd of children and adults in a local Chelsea theater on a Saturday afternoon. Now the film will make it’s stateside premiere on January 16th.
Who knew Paddington was from Peru? Does that make him latin? Latin or not, our story begins in the Peruvian rainforest showing a very happy bear being raised by his Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo. We learn that an English explorer had visited the rainforest several years back and Uncle Pastuzo had saved the explorer’s life. He leaves his hat behind, but as thanks invites the bears to London as his guests if they ever see fit. After a massive earthquake destroys much of the rainforest and the bear’s home, Paddington is encouraged by his Aunt to find a new home for safety and shelter – the only spot she knows is London.
In search of a home, Paddington hits the big urban city of London. Excitement quickly turns to the dooms and naivete that only big cities can present. In come the Brown family, led by Mr. and Mrs. Brown and their two adolescent kids, Judy and Jonathan. Mrs. Brown seems to have an immediate soft spot for the homeless bear and convinces Mr. Brown and the family to take him in. Finding him at Paddington station, combined with the inability to pronounce his real name, the bear is named after the infamous train station. At this point the humor and adventure kick into high gear.
What makes “Paddington” the movie so endearing is it’s cast of humans who treat the bear as just that, a hybrid – a hybrid bear with human tendencies. Paddington speaks English, with an English accent of course, has emotions, particularly with his eyes, and mixes walking on two feet, with crawling and swinging above our heads.
Some of the most funny scenes show the adorable Paddington trying to fit into city living. Whether it’s trying to brush his teeth, take a bath or
escape the evil intentions of Millicent (Nicole Kidman), the Taxidermist who has it out to turn Paddington into a rare hide, Paddington uses a hilarious mix of human and bear tendencies to engage a multitude of audiences.
Enough can’t be said about the well assembled cast who help give this timeless tale future life. Ben Whishaw (LILTING), does a wonderful job as the voice of Paddington mixing an effortless English accent with boyish and gentleman charms. Hugh Bonneville does a good job of playing a skeptical father who ultimately comes around to embrace the bear into the family. His scenes with Paddington are some of the best the film has to offer. Sally Hawkins (BLUE JASMINE0, once again shows her incredible versatility as the optimistic mother who is immediately drawn to Paddington.
It shouldn’t take much to convince audiences to run out and see PADDINGTON, as the character has stood the test of time for many generations since it’s beginning in 1958. This is one character who may have had his origins overseas, but somehow made his way to the states for my generation and before. The books have been translated into 30 languages making the character of Paddington an international sensation. As the trend for animation and Superhero films shows no signs of fading, PADDINGTON represents a timeless tale that will continue to be embraced by both the young and old, and hopefully for future sequels and generations.