Granger on Movies: 'Paddington'
Published 3:18 pm, Saturday, January 24, 2015
Beginning with an old black-and-white newsreel prologue, set in Peru, this is the sweetly playful story of a plucky, young orphaned bear poignantly searching for a friendly face in London's Paddington Station.
That's where he's first spotted by the Brown family, returning home from a holiday. Kindly Mrs. Brown (Sally Hawkins) is immediately smitten by the fretful, forlorn fellow, while her husband (Hugh Bonneville) and children (Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin) are less enamored. Only elderly Mrs. Bird (Julie Walters) seems to realize that they need Paddington as much as he needs them.
Naming the rambunctious bear Paddington after the train station, the family soon comes to appreciate not only his orange marmalade addiction but also his comic misadventures, even as they endeavor to find the British explorer who, years ago, visited "Darkest Peru" and befriended Paddington's ursine family in the rainforest.
Adapted from Michael Bond's "A Bear Called Paddington" (1958) by Hamish McColl and writer/director Paul King, it seamlessly combines live-action with superbly fluid CGI from London's Framestore. As itinerant street buskers, a five-piece calypso band is a unifying device, while an attic dollhouse magically reveals the family-at-home.
Voicing impeccably polite Paddington is Ben Whishaw, who played "Q" in "Skyfall." Sally Hawkins ("Blue Jasmine") is engaging, while Hugh Bonneville ("Downton Abbey") is skeptical. The new "Dr. Who" Time Lord Peter Capaldi plays a nosy neighbor, Matt "Little Britain" Lucas is a cab driver, and Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent is the German antiques dealer who identifies Paddington's explorer's hat.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Paddington" is an engaging, enchanting 8. It's a charming, compassionate family film.
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