Let’s get this over with at the start – 2014’s CGI Paddington doesn’t look or sound like the Paddington Bear many of us remember from the oft-repeated seventies TV series (voiced back then by the soothingly warm tones of Michael Hordern) or the toy bears you can buy that are based on author Michael Bond’s original creation, who first appeared in print back in 1958. In this 21st century version, everyone’s favourite marmalade-loving bear is a little vulpine of snout and sounds rather youthful (as voiced by Whishaw), but ignore these minor updates (Paddington Bear 2.0?) and he is still the loveable, accident-prone, cuddly and utterly adorable bear generations of children have fallen in love with.
For his first big screen adventure, Paddington gets an utterly charming story too. We get a glimpse of his origins, as a very British explorer ventures into deepest, darkest Peru years before and encounters two rare talking bears whom he names Lucy and Pastuzo (voiced by Staunton and Gambon). Introduced to all things English – including, of course, marmalade – Lucy and Pastuzo raise their nephew to understand the English way of life (manners at all times, how we have hundreds of ways of describing the rain) in case he ever finds himself in London. Which, of course, he does, hitching a ride on a cargo ship and ending up at Paddington station, where he encounters the Brown family, led by kindly Mrs Brown (Hawkins) and the rather more reserved Mr Brown (Bonneville), who in this modern incarnation works in risk assessment, so doesn’t look too kindly on a bumbling bear coming to stay in his ordered household.
Throw in a search for the explorer who met Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo so many years before, and the threatening presence of Natural History Museum taxidermist Millicent (Kidman) who wants to add a rare bear to her collection, and this adds up to a terrific mix of adventure, warm humour and laugh out loud comedy. Director Paul King mixes his CGI bear and an excellent cast (Bonneville is a perfect Mr Brown, while Kidman and Capaldi are both delicious as bad-gal and besotted neighbour respectively) with a wintry London backdrop and some clever little animated moments that make the whole film feel truly magical. A story about finding a family to love, and changing their lives for the better in doing so, this is one of those rare, heart-warming movies that really is a treat for the whole family, and one of the must-see movies of 2014.
If you are planning to watch Paddington with young children, please note the film is rated PG and read the ‘Scary Moments’ information below.
Is Paddington suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Paddington is often in precarious situations. Little (under age 6) viewers may be upset by the earthquake that destroys Paddington’s forest home at the beginning of the movie.
They may also be upset by the threat of Millicent killing and stuffing animals. She also threatens a taxi driver which may upset young viewers, and she tries to capture Paddington which may also be frightening to the under-6s.
There is also a scene where Paddington is asleep and is in danger that may upset younger viewers.
The film has been given a PG rating in the UK, this is due to ‘dangerous behaviour, mild threat, innuendo, infrequent mild bad language.’
The main scenes parents of young children should be aware of are those in which Paddington behaves in a way that would be dangerous for children to imitate, for example:
1) he hides in a refrigerator
2) he climbs up and slides down a high/long staircase bannister
3) he climbs up an old fashioned toilet cistern, pulling it off the wall, and also puts his face down the toilet
4) he rides on a skateboard while holding onto a lead that attaches him to a bus
5) Mr Brown’s son is seen in flashback strapping firework like rockets to his shoes
The innuendo mentioned by the BBFC is a scene in which one character dresses as a woman and is seen flirting with a man but it is innocuous (there are a couple of uses of the word ‘sexy’).
For more information on the BBFC ruling, visit their website.