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'Paddington' an endearing 1990s-style film (IANS Movie Review)
Film: "Paddington"; Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Samuel Joslin, Madeleine Harris, Nicole Kidman, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters and Peter Capaldi; Voiceovers by: Ben Whishaw, Michael Gambon and Imelda Staunton; Director: Paul King; Rating: ***
"Paddington" is a light-hearted adventure film for children with engaging twists and turns. The gentle moments intersped wigh the cute action scenes have a universal appeal.
Director Paul King's "Paddington" is based on the long-running children's book series from renowned author Michael Bond, which was first published in 1958. With a cleverly embellished back story which in fact is an acknowledged, immigration allegory, the director has skillfully updated the tale while remaining faithful to the original book.
"Paddington" is the story of a young orphan, stowaway, bear on a boat from 'Darkest Peru' who lands up in London seeking to be adopted by a home, carrying a suitcase and a label round his neck.
While at the railway station, he discovers that London and its people are not what he had imagined to be. He is initially taken aback with their indifference. He soon finds the Brown family who is willing to take him in and look after him, albeit for just a little while. The kind-hearted Mrs. Brown (Sally Hawkins), a children's book illustrator who has a soft corner for the bear, names him after the station. She coaxes Mr. Brown (Hugh Bonneville), her concerned insurance-assessor husband and kids; the sulky teen Judy (Madeleine Harris) and tween geek Jonathan (Samuel Joslin), to let Paddington move in with them and their elderly relative Mrs. Bird (Julie Walters) until he finds an alternate accomadation. This is when everyone's adventure begins.
Outgoing and adorable, Paddington has an innocent way about him when he inadvertently gets into trouble. He reminds you of a child learning new things. And this is evident from his first adventure itself when he accidentally catches a pickpocket and ends up as a celebrity on his first outing in London.
The film caters to children and would be enjoyed by adults alike. It is a family film with several messages and one of the messages is that families are not just made up by the people who are related to us, but friends and even animals can be a part of our family. This is beautifully correlated with, "In London everyone is different and they all fit in" and "Family stick together."
With the right intonation, Ben Whishaw's voice suits Paddington to perfection. Equally convincing are Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon as Paddington's Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo.
On the performance front, the actors slip into their roles with apt precision except for Nicole Kidman. She portrays the antagonist, taxidermist Millicent, who is determined to add Paddington to her collection of stuffed animals. With garish outfits and a bit over the top performance, she is a laugh.
The gags, visual puns and imaginative framing devices along with scene transitions that are especially used for flashbacks, are so reminiscent of the 1990s style, that the film offers a preserving sense of easygoing sweetness.
Visually, there is perfect combination of computer generated images and live-action which results in a very real and life-like drama that is pleasing to all.
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