PADDINGTON – A Review by John Strange

By: John ‘Doc’ Strange
Directed by: Paul King
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Michael Gambon, Ben Whishaw, Peter Capaldi, Julie Walters, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville
MPAA Rating: PG (for mild action and rude humor)
Selig Rating: FULL PRICE
Runtime: 95 Min.
Explorer Montgomery Clyde (Tim Downie) journeys to the deep dark jungles of Peru to see what is there.  As a proper Brit he brings the comforts of home.  He discovers a pair of bears who prove to be very intelligent, learning to speak English and love marmalade.  He names them Lucy (voiced by Imelda Staunton) and Pastuzo (voiced by Michael Gambon).  They become fast friends.  When Montgomery has to return to Britain he leaves them, amongst other things, his record player and records on how to speak English and his hat.  His parting words encouraged them to look him up in London should they ever get there.
Many years later, Lucy and Pastuzo are raising their nephew (voiced by Ben Whishaw).  Their wonderful tree house (shaped much like a huge bee hive) is destroyed in a terrible earthquake.  The quake levels the jungle for miles.  Following the end of the tremors, they have lost not only their home but Uncle Pastuzo.
Lucy and her nephew realize they must leave their home.  Lucy will go to the Old Bears Home and her nephew (sorry but I cannot spell the name he gives us in the movie, it’s in bear and sounds a lot like a roar) is to travel to London to find Montgomery Clyde.
Lucy helps the young bear stow away in a lifeboat of a steamship headed for London.  All he has with him are a suitcase full of jars of orange marmalade and his uncle’s hat.  As the trip progresses, the pile of empty marmalade jars grows in the bow of the lifeboat.  Lucky for the young bear, his marmalade gets him to London.  Now he has to find the explorer.  The records taught them British etiquette, albeit the etiquette of a simpler time.
The young bear goes to a large train station to try and meet a good family to adopt him.  The idea originated in a story the bears were told by Clyde.  He told them that after the war, children would arrive at the station and families would take them in and raise them.  Today, the people moving through the station are not like those post war people.  They walk right on by as he desperately tries to begin a conversation with them.
Finally, he approaches a family that actually talks to him.  Mr. Brown (Hugh Bonneville) urges them to continue on but Mrs. Brown (Sally Hawkins) insists upon talking to him.  Despite the father’s protests, the family decides to allow the bear to spend the night with them before they help him find a home.  Mrs. Brown asks the young bear for his name.  His tells them he only has a bear name and then speaks it (it sounds like a warbling roar).  They decide to help him find a name and a few are suggested.  Than Mrs. Brown notes the name of the station and Paddington received his name.
There are all sorts of disasters that occur.  As Paddington explores modern plumbing all of the usual things happen and soon water begins to drip around the light fixture in the kitchen.  Rushing upstairs Mr. Brown opens the bathroom door and is hit with wave of water as the unbelievably flooded room empties.  Paddington rides the wave in the tub all the way down the stairs ending ion the ground floor.  The family is now determined to find him a place to live that is NOT under their roof. 
Paddington is determined to find Montgomery Clyde as he feels the explorer would welcome the bear into his home.  They check out every M. Clyde in London.  Not one of them is the man they are looking for.  The last address they arrive at proves to be the home of Millicent (Nicole Kidman), evil museum taxidermist and daughter of Montgomery Clyde.
She is bitter that her father didn’t bring home a specimen of the bears he discovered which resulted in his disgrace.  I think her choice of careers is a direct correlation to her father’s disgrace.  She finds she loves to kill and stuff living creatures.
She enlists the weird neighbor of the Brown’s, Reginald Curry (Peter Capaldi) to help her capture Paddington.  She wants to mount the bear in the worst way.  This woman is as evil as she is beautiful.  Curry is an even weirder character than Capaldi’s version of Dr. Who.  The two try several ways to capture the bear, foiled by the bumbling efforts of the Browns and the marmalade devouring bear.
In the end, Paddington finds his family and we are blessed with some fun situations and some silly actions on both sides of the conflict.  This film stays faithful to the stories by Michael Bond.  The lovable friendly bear appeared in more than twenty books which told the story of his life from his beginnings in deepest, darkest Peru to his life in London with the family he came to love.  As a bonus, for those adults watching the movie, we get to see Ms. Kidman portray an evil character every bit as cruel and as chic as Glenn Close’s portrayal of Cruella De Vil in 101 DalmationsPaddington is going to do well in the theaters and have a long life in the DVD and VOD arena.
The Selig Rating Scale:
FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!
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