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[Review] – ‘Paddington’


Release Date: 16th January 2015
Director: Paul King
Writer: Paul King - Hamish McColl
Cast: Hugh Bonneville - Sally Hawkins - Julie Walters - Peter Capaldi



Sound & Music



Visual Effects

Total Score

User Rating
4 total ratings


Posted December 29, 2014 by

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I detest children’s films. There. I said it. The glitzy, ‘all your dreams will come true’ mentality of the kids movie market not only annoys me, but in extreme cases (I’m looking at you Frozen), elicits a physical nausea that sends me running for the hills. “Why did you watch Paddington, then?” I hear you ask. Well, to be honest, I went out of morbid curiosity. Having seen one film after the other hell bent on ruining my childhood, I wanted to see how they could further destroy and Disney-fy the tales of my youth. Walking into the theatre I was expecting the worst, as the production seemed to have been falling apart in recent times, what with Colin Firth’s departure from the voice cast and the rating debacle plaguing the PR for the film. I sat down. I crossed my arms. I knew I was going to hate it.

I loved it. I absolutely bloody well loved it. Within the first minute my arms relaxed, my stomach calmed and I even (shock horror) had a wee chuckle. Despite the bear being entirely animated, which often distances me from characters, Paddington is extremely endearing. Ben Whishaw’s voice is perfect for the role, not too old, not too childish and is the absolute personification of the Paddington we saw on the page. The animation is remarkable and manages to avoid what would be a Bear ‘uncanny valley’. In fact beyond the artificial, the performances of all the cast are pleasing. Hugh Bonneville is hilarious and touching as a rick-accessing, kill joy father while Sally Hawkins is utterly charming in her maternal role. Peter Capaldi and Julie Walters are tremendously funny in their wacky, possibly senile characters while Jim Broadbent hams up a storm! The only slight kink in the casting armour is Nicole Kidman’s villainess, Millicent, as her British accent slips occasionally back to her Aussie roots, however her clear enjoyment of being such an embodiment of evil makes up for this issue in spades.

The art direction of this film is almost Mary Poppins-esque, creating a colourful yet realistic view of London. The attention to detail in this film is remarkable, each piece striving to warm the watchers heart a degree further. From vibrant calypso band interludes to Beefeater buffets (not as strange as it sounds) each frame is brimming with life and charm so often non-existent in today’s soul-less money hungry movie machine. Wow, that got dark quick.

The film is dreadfully funny, not once compromising on the British wit we all know and love as well as giving us some broad slapstick tomfoolery. Despite the film’s very British feel, foreign audiences can easily access every frame receiving the same enjoyment and feeling just as charmed as any toff. While the plot doesn’t exactly give Chris Nolan a run for his overly complex money, it is simple enough for kids to grasp while not being utterly trite and thus keeps the adult crowd invested. The striking thing about this film is its refreshingly realistic outlook that it provides. This film flushes the ‘life is easy’, ‘make a wish’ sentiment of other children’s movies and tells the viewer, ‘hey, life isn’t perfect but if we all stopped acting like arseholes the world would be a better place.’ Except they say it nicer.

I know I’ve repeated this word again and again, but what this film absolutely exudes is charm. It is funny, heart-warming and welcome relief from the vomit inducing children’s flicks one has become used to. I still stand by my opening statement, children’s films are horrible. But Paddington is not a children’s film or a family film or an animal film for that matter. It’s just a damn good film.


Written By:

Portrait Film Debate

Edward Shaw
Freelance Contributor


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