Kids, never bring a bear home to live with you. Chances are good he’ll eat your head. Unless you’re in this movie.
Based on the classic book series, Paddington follows the story of a bear who finds a home and a family. Is it a beary good time or does it need to go into permanent hibernation? Well, let’s take a look at the trailer and find out.
So who stars in this movie? Paddington himself is played by Ben Whishaw of Skyfall and Cloud Atlas. His new family, the Browns, include Downton Abbey‘s Hugh Bonneville and Godzilla‘s Sally Hawkins. And Nicole Kidman of Moulin Rouge! plays an evil taxidermist by the name of Millicent.
Paul King (no relation to me) writes and directs this film. His past works include Bunny and the Bull and The Mighty Boosh, indicating that his talents lie with surreal comedies. How will that translate into a mainstream children’s adventure comedy? I have no idea.
The trailer begins as our furry hero arrives at a London train station. The Brown family walks by, and Mr. Brown warns his children, “Stranger danger. Keep your eyes down. There’s some sort of bear.” A Peruvian spectacled bear, as it turns out, although he looks almost nothing like an actual spectacled bear. Being a polite sort of bear, the little guy takes off his hat to greet them, and a bird flies out from underneath it, suggesting he’s somehow related to Radagast the Brown.
Mrs. Brown, being a mother who cares for the safety of her children, naturally starts talking to the wild animal in the train station. I know he seems friendly, but shouldn’t you be staying away from the teeth and claws? But since the tag around the bear’s neck says “Please look after this bear,” Mrs. Brown decides the logical decision is to take him home for the night. Yes, let your kids sleep in the same house with a carnivore. What could possibly go wrong?
And why is no one interested in the fact that THE BEAR IS TALKING?! Is it a natural occurrence in this world for wild animals to talk? Come to think of it, why does he speak English when his name is a bear’s roar? Mrs. Brown decides to change the bear’s name to Paddington, as in Paddington Station, and they repeat the name more times than necessary to make sure we got it.
The Brown family goes home and has the same conversation I just had about bringing home random bears, while Paddington goes through a slapstick routine that ultimately floods the bathroom. No doubt this disaster was directly caused by Mrs. Brown saying, “What’s the worst that can happen?” As Mr. Brown gets doused by a Godzilla-sized wave, Paddington rides the bathtub down the stairs and into the kitchen. “That was amazing,” says one of the kids. No, what’s amazing is that you saw any of that from where you were standing.
The kids decide to give him a bath (how did they get the bathtub back upstairs?) and blow-dry him, leaving him looking like an extra-fluffy ewok. But Mr. Brown still isn’t convinced, saying, “That bear is a danger to this family.” Well, he’s not wrong. In fact, he’s got hundreds of pounds in property damage to prove him right. I can’t even be mad at him for stopping his kid from sliding down the bannister after Paddington does the same, takes a tumble, and breaks something else off-screen. I’d be sending that bear away too!
So how do we keep him with the family? Threaten him with death and stuffing at the hands of an over-acting taxidermist! Why would that kind of movie freak your kids out? Why would she want him in her mounted animals collection if she’s intrigued that he talks (finally someone notices that little fact)? And why do I get the feeling I’m watching Cruella de Vil’s backstory?
As Millicent moves in, Paddington claims he has the hang of things and then promptly falls off an escalator to prove he doesn’t. “This family needs that bear every bit as much as he needs you,” one of their neighbors tells them. That would be true if there were anything wrong with the family other than a mother who is far too trusting. All I see is a normal family who doesn’t do ridiculously dangerous things until they adopt a bear. They show a film of Peru in their living room, and Paddington walks right through the screen into the forest. I’d say this is a flashback, but I’m not sure he didn’t just take a portal back home because again, TALKING BEAR!
Mr. Brown finally gives in and says, “It doesn’t matter that he’s a different species or that he has a worrying marmalade habit.” All that matters is that we love with each other! Also, you basically have a two hundred pound drug addict in your home. This is a problem! Paddington climbs up a wall Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol style, slides down a dinosaur skeleton, and sails into the air with an umbrella, only to smack into multiple satellites and antennae. And the trailer ends with Paddington getting his face smashed, because we want to abuse our hero as much as possible.
So based on the trailer, do I recommend this movie? Sort of. It’s a harmless slapstick romp, and despite all the logical problems with adopting a bear, Paddington is pretty sweet at heart. If you want to take your kids to a movie this weekend, this one will be fine. That said, it feels pretty generic, so you and your kids probably won’t remember it a couple of weeks after you saw it. Overall, it’s an okay children’s film, but it’s one I’ll be giving a miss.
And if I want to see talking bears, I’ll simply overdose on marmalade.
Paddington is owned by The Weinstein Company.