I'm surprised it's taken this long for Paddington Bear to be updated for modern audiences. But here he is. I hadn't heard much about this movie before I went to see it, but judging by the trailer, it didn't look all that bad. I can't say I'm particularly knowledgeable in Paddington related matters either, but perhaps that's a good thing, as I can't nitpick over what he's become.
Paddington (Ben Whishaw) is a bear hailing from deepest, darkest Peru, who arrives at Paddington station in search of a new home. Paddington eventually has a chance encounter with the Brown family, headed by a no nonsense, cynical father (Hugh Bonneville) and an accepting, adventurous mother (Sally Hawkins). After begrudgingly inviting him into their home for the night, Mr. Brown sets about finding a new home for Paddington, inadvertently catching the attention of Natural History Museum taxidermist Millicent (Nicole Kidman).
The plot certainly isn't anything special. Kidman plays your cookie cutter kid's movie villain after an interesting animal, and there's the usual sort of cat and mouse fare, but the rest of the movie is padded out with slapstick scenes of destruction and musings from Paddington alongside montages of the family. That may sound boring, but while the main plot certainly drags its feet, the rest is so well produced that I didn't mind sitting through it. Paddington is beautifully animated and provided with a fantastic voice performance by Whishaw, and even while he's accidentally destroying things he's simply charming, and it's all put together very well.
The overall look of the movie is wonderful. It has a very fantastical feel to it, be it the building whose internal memo system works via hydraulic pipes, or the Wes Anderson-esque plod through the rooms of the family home, every scene is just a delight to look at. Everything is accentuated by some great performances from some of Britain's greats, particularly Bonneville and a lovely turn from Peter Capaldi. Even Kidman turns a quite generic villain into something quite nice.
Paddington is a good family movie. It looks fantastic, has some great performances throughout, and I just had a lot of fun watching it. The plot may leave a lot to be desired, and slows down the whole affair in some places, but it may well be the best family movie this winter season.
My rating: 4/5