'Paddington' - Movie Review

"Paddington Bear" is a very famous character from multiple children's books by Michael Bond. Paddington has appeared (according to Wikipedia) in three previous TV series before appearing in this 2014 live action movie. The first sequence in the movie lays out (in black and white news footage shot shortly after the Second World War) the visit of an explorer to "Darkest Peru" where he encounters a race of intelligent bears, and issues an invitation to visit London. That invitation isn't acted upon until 2014, when a young bear who will eventually get the name "Paddington" (voiced by Ben Whishaw) stows away on a ship. He finds London rather less friendly than portrayed by the explorer, but does eventually manage to find a place to stay temporarily with a family in the city. Where he's unfailingly polite and causes havoc as he's significantly accident-prone.

Perhaps you remember a muffled outcry when the first trailer came out that Paddington looked "creepy?" I was one of the people who reacted that way. But the critics got past that and the movie currently holds a 98% rating at Rotten Tomatoes - pretty damn good. Having seen the movie, "creepy" isn't the word I'd use any more but I still found the animation of the character mildly off-putting. The movie is of course aimed at children, and we expect a certain amount of absurdity and lack of realism in children's movies. But this one plays it up, with massive elements of both farce and surreality. It also lays on the "cute" in layers so thick that I would have expected more adults to gag on it. I perfectly predicted not one, but two reasonably significant plot twists (the parentage of the Cruella de Vil character (Nicole Kidman) and the visual aspect of the climactic rescue of Paddington) because the writers really had zero interest in straying from formula in the plot construction. And yet, I have to admit that I found myself grinning and even laughing on several occasions because of the clever construction of visual gags. In the end the predictability and the odd looks of the main character mean there's not a chance I'd watch this one again.