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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Movie Review - Paddington

Paddington (2015)
Starring Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Samuel Joslin, Madeleine Harris, Jim Broadbent, and Nicole Kidman
Featuring the vocal talent of Ben Whishaw, Michael Gambon, and Imelda Staunton
Directed by Paul King

Those who read this blog know that I am not afraid to give adequate credit to a kid pic that does its job well.  (The Top Twenty placement of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day in the 2014 RyMickey Awards is evidence of that.)  Because of this, it's a bit disappointing to say that I wasn't completely captivated by Paddington, an admittedly charming film that feels a bit too choppy and episodic to make a big impression.

Through a rather odd and off-putting prologue, we learn that British explorer Montgomery Clyde discovered a new species of bear upon his travels to Peru.  While he had to leave South America, Clyde befriended the bears who learned English and he told the ursine creatures to visit him someday when they were able.  Cut to years (decades?) later and a terrible earthquake ruins the bear's Peruvian home and young Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is sent to Britain by his Aunt Lucy (voiced by Imelda Staunton) in order to live a better life.

Upon his arrival in London, Paddington finds himself adrift in the Paddington subway station only to be discovered by the Brown family headed by dad Henry and mom Mary (Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins).  With it difficult to acclimate to suburban life, Paddington finds himself at odds with Henry who wants the bear out of his house.  With this apparently not enough of a story, Paddington also must avoid being captured by a rather sadistic taxidermist named Millicent (Nicole Kidman) who wants to stuff the rare bear for her collection.

If the summary seems rather at odds with itself and a conglomerative mess, that's because it kind of is.  There are too many "episodes" without a really singular captivating storyline to carry the film.  That isn't to say that the film disappoints entirely.  Director and co-screenwriter Paul King has made an innately "British" picture with much of the film's charm and laughs coming from Paddington's experiences with this new culture with which he's attempting to assimilate.  Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins are both delightful in their roles and Nicole Kidman succeeds with her rather underwritten and seemingly unnecessary character.  Additionally, the special effects that create Paddington himself are quite good and meld rather seamlessly with the bear's human counterparts.  However, overall, Paddington just doesn't quite cut it.

The RyMickey Rating:  C+

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