Paddington adds charming zest to its deliciously sweet marmalade. What defines a home? Is it the delightful warmth exuding from the lavished shelter we call our abode? Or is it the accumulated heirlooms and contents that decorate the spacious rooms and hallways? For Paddington, a stowaway friendly bear shipped from darkest Peru to London, a home is defined by its residents.
The welcoming tree of generations. A family. Named after the eponymous railway terminus, Paddington is temporarily adopted by the eccentric Brown family, whom attempt to find him a permanent home. A risk analyst, an illustrator, two school students and a housekeeper. Initially sceptical, Mr. Brown attempts to rid of the anthropomorphic bear immediately, due to the heightened potential risks he could cause. But, soon after the realisation that the family needs Paddington just as much as Paddington needs them, it becomes abundantly clear that the definition of “home” is, well, each other. Suited, booted, and ready to tackle the sprawling urban city of London, whilst trying to avoid a psychopathic taxidermist whom wants to stuff Paddington for a Natural History Museum exhibit. Old red hat. Blue duffel coat. Battered suitcase. Emergency marmalade sandwich.
King’s adaptation of Bond’s trademark character in British literature is a prime example of understanding the source material. Whilst treading familiar narrative beats one could find in any family-friendly flick, such as the melodramatic moment of reflection and the sudden realisation when the moral of the story is spelt out during the conclusion, does supply an element of predictability, it does so with confident panache.
King equips his screenplay with an abundance of British charm. From consuming tea and biscuits at an antique shop to learning the eloquent mannerisms of typical London folk. For those uninitiated with Britain, Paddington’s perspective provides a multitude of quirks and complacencies the nation takes pride in. Those of us inhabiting this rather small island will watch the feature hard staring at Paddington and how he copes with our culture, offering two distinct viewpoints. Culminating them together is a sweet, endearing and warm story about acceptance. No matter how you act. No matter how you look (even if you are a bear, but that’s alright!). Family will always be there. It’s a moral that sprinkles plenty of sugary goodness to retain Bond’s pleasantries found in his illustrated literature.
The substantial amount of memorable characterisation leaking from Paddington’s marmalade sandwiches is extraordinary. Maintaining a nostalgic charm to invite adults, whilst including several scenes of sheer stupidity to entertain younger audiences. Notably the bathroom scenario, the pickpocketer chase and the discovery of sticky sellotape, all enjoyably convey Paddington’s clumsiness and unfamiliarity with human society. Bolstered by an incredibly charming voice from Whishaw whom brings the legendary bear to life. Outstanding pronunciation and appropriate pitches for every type of emotion. That, and the fur-bulous (couldn’t help myself…) visual effects that shaped Paddington into a lifelike miniature bear. Bonneville, Hawkins, Walters, Broadbent and Kidman all embracing the family-friendliness excellently, offering fun performances all-round. Some notable directorial flairs from King, especially the dollhouse integration to ascertain the characters of the Brown family, retain the narrative buoyancy.
Overall, Paddington is the equivalent of receiving a warm embrace from your grandparents, or snuggles from your domesticated pet. It emits a sensation of comfort, leaving you with a massive smile on your face. A brilliant adaptation that, whilst familiar, accurately captures the sweet tenderness of Paddington Bear and creates an enjoyable story along the way. More importantly though, can we make “Marmalade Day” a bank holiday or something?