Dispatched from Darkest Peru, our furry hero arrives in London with no friend to call and no place to live. He’s taken in reluctantly by a middle-class family, the Browns, and expectedly some fish-out-of-water situations ensue. Mr Brown (Hugh Bonneville) is at his wit’s end with their new guest, but his kind wife (a terrific Sally Hawkins) warms up to him immediately, and their two kids come around soon. Meanwhile, a deliciously menacing Nicole Kidman shows up as an evil taxidermist determined to steal the bear and stuff him alongside her previous ‘victims’ at the museum.
It’s all predictable stuff, but director Paul King keeps the pace brisk and the tone light-hearted. You’ll notice a distinct Mary Poppins hangover in the scenes in which the bear wins over the uptight patriarch, and there are more charming old-world touches like a toy-train tea delivery system that you’ll immediately want to own. The set-pieces too are inoffensive and plain funny…like one in which Paddington is suspended in the air while pursuing a pickpocket, or another in which Mr Brown must slip into a woman’s dress to infiltrate a government archival facility.
Adults will no doubt spot themes of inclusion, and a message against all the fuss over immigrants. But for the little ones this is pure unapologetic fun. I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Paddington. It’s warm and full of affection; a film you shouldn’t miss.