Paddington – Film Review & The Paddington Trail
– DELIGHTFULLY BRITISH –
Whishaw and the digital artists at the visual effects house Framestore created Paddington as his every bit sweet and charming original creation. It was hard to believe he wasn’t actually real!
(With respect to Colin Firth, who left the role in June after it was decided he wasn’t quite right for it, Whishaw’s hot-tea-and-honey voice is so ideal that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else ever being considered.) Who doesn’t love the Downton Abbey Father figure!?
Bravo all round to the wonderful cast! Every one was perfect. Can’t beat the fantastic Mother (Sally Hawkins) and Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton), along with Mr Curry (Peter Capaldi).
Paddington is a total delight, as warm and welcome as a hot pair of socks on a winter morning. It’s also enormously funny in an unmistakably British way: the overall effect is something like a Children’s Film Foundation adventure styled by Wes Anderson and written by Peter Cook. (- Telegraph)
Because this is 2014, there’s also a back-story. Paddington opens with crackling newsreel footage of an expedition to Darkest Peru, in which an explorer with a reassuring moustache, played by Tim Downie, happens on a family of bears with a liking for fruit preserves and an unexpected flair for languages. Flash forward many years, and Paddington is collecting oranges for his Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo (voiced by Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon) to make a new batch of marmalade, when an earthquake destroys the family nest and his Uncle. 😦
It’s the nudge that our ursine hero needs to strike out on his own, and he heads via cargo ship for London: a place the explorer had promised his aunt and uncle would always extend a warm welcome to bears.
The first Paddington book was published in 1958, when the image of young evacuees standing on railway platforms with a suitcase each and labels around their necks was still fresh in the British collective consciousness, and director Paul King and his co-writer Hamish McColl make sure that resonance isn’t lost. It’s there when Paddington first encounters the Brown family, and even more so, with an unexpected pang of sadness, when he meets the antique shop owner Mr Gruber (Jim Broadbent), a refugee of Hitler’s Germany in Bond’s original books, who reflects here on his own fateful journey to London that began at a railway station.
It’s a flash of seriousness in the middle of a typical sequence of chocolate-box fun – we’ve just watched a model train pop out of Mr Gruber’s grandfather clock, chug its way around the parlour, then pull up on the coffee table with a boiler full of freshly brewed tea and a tender piled with sugar. But it shows how sincerely King’s film has engaged with Bond’s creation, and how committed it is to leaving behind a sprinkling of ideas once the hi jinks have ended.
(My fav part!!! A bear and his dog)
Savour, too, the film’s ingenious use of Notting Hill as a setting: far from the stylishly tatty, white-upper-middle-class game preserve of Richard Curtis’s frenzied imaginings, Paddington embraces the area’s famous melting-pot vibrancy, which allows even a bear from a few hundred miles outside Lima to feel at home. While Paddington pads around the neighbourhood, he often crosses paths with a Cuban son band, whose music, at once brilliantly idiosyncratic and perfectly in place, chimes with the mood. “In London nobody’s alike, which means everyone fits in,” he muses later on, and there are worse lessons for children to learn from a film than that.
But serious as Paddington is about meaning something, it’s even more serious about the business of having fun. King’s background in television comedy (he directed The Mighty Boosh and Come Fly With Me) clearly pays off in many sequences of precision-timed slapstick, some of which involve a very game Nicole Kidman as a fanatical taxidermist with a rare specimen in her crosshairs.
Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins, meanwhile, light up the whole production as Mr and Mrs Brown, two imperfect parents with transparently good intentions, and light-years removed from the annoying, uncool mother/father stereotype. They’re also both very amusing: a sequence in which Bonneville infiltrates a library while dressed as a cleaning lady, and is forced to make small talk with Simon Farnaby’s affectionate desk clerk (cue the gentler-than-gentle sex references, wisely downgraded last night by the BBFC to “innuendo”) is pure Peter Cook, and one of the funniest things I’ve seen this year.
The film’s big finish at the Natural History Museum is perhaps a little schematic, and you long for even more Peter Capaldi as the Browns’ miserable neighbour Mr Curry, but these are quibbles, not problems, and hardly take the shine off. At best, I’d hoped a Paddington film would leave me with a smile and a nostalgic tingle. I didn’t expect to laugh myself half-silly and almost cry as they become a family. (Such a softie!) The instruction “please look after this bear” has been heeded!
THE BEAR ABOUT TOWN – The Paddington Trail
“It’s nice having a bear about the house,” Michael Bond wrote in his 1958 children’s book classic, A Bear Called Paddington. Almost 60 years later, Bond’s sentiment lives on, with even the digital-savvy generation posting Pinterest boards in dedication to the humble bear.
This month, the capital has fallen under the spell of the literary legend. Fifty spruced-up Paddington Bear statues, designed by the likes of Emma Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch and Boris Johnson, have taken up camp at iconic locations around London in The Paddington Trail.
It’s a new initiative by the NSPCC, VisitLondon.com and StudioCanal to mark the release of Paddington the movie, released on November 28, to raise money for the NSPCC and its ChildLine service. The one-off statues will be auctioned later this year in an attempt to raise a whopping £500,000 for charity.
Source: London Loves Business
Can you spot all 50?! The last day to see them is today! So get hunting!
Due to the huge popularity of The Paddington Trail, even more artists and designers have been keen to offer their own Paddington statue creations and help generate more funds for the trail’s charity partner, NSPCC.
Although these recent arrivals are not on the official trail, they will still be auctioned with the rest of the collection to raise funds for the NSPCC.