“Fact: A Londoner has 107 different ways to say that it is raining.”
I have recently discovered what many of my favourite films have in common: StudioCanal. From Inside Llewyn Davis to Moonrise Kingdom, I am constantly impressed with the work of StudioCanal. Paddington showed me another impressive string to StudioCanal’s bow.
Paddington is a primarily a children’s film of the highest order. Not only did the hordes of toddlers around me regularly erupt with laughter, but I too found myself laughing more than I did in The Interview and Kingsman combined. I both laughed and (briefly) cried at the stunning success before me. Paul King and co. have adapted a classic children’s character with the success I wish all revamps had.
Paddington paints a very accurate depiction of a stranger’s experience in London. I’ve been new to the capital, and as a newcomer, its just as overwhelming for me as it is for our talking bear. On this note, the London and its inhabitants seen in Paddington form a thinly-veiled reflection of conditions during post-colonial migration. The use of a resident calypso band placed the Carribean in the forefront of your minds and quotes such as ‘It always starts with just one bear’ are haunting reminders if the racial attitudes many migrants faced upon arrival to English shores.
Simply, Paddington is one of the most British films ever. Not only is it set in and commenting on London, but features a plethora of British talent. Alongside classic actors like Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon, Paddington hosts a gathering of fresh British TV talent such as Kayvan Novak of PhoneJacker fame, Peep Show’s Super-Hans and many, many more. Furthermore, most of the film’s comedy sniggers at the delightfully peculiar British ways.
This humour is the backbone of the film’s success. Paddington has a level of wit only seen in StudioCanal (Alpha Papa, Shaun the Sheep). The self-deprecating wit of Paddington is a pleasure to behold. The escalator scene, featured heavily in the film’s trailers, is marvellous. The humour is hilarious and the scene is shot with an effortless grace. This grace falls over all of the film’s visual set-pieces, which are beautifully understated.
The film is however, rather slow in parts, plodding along to a forgettable ending. Yet, the combination of witty humour and charming acting keep the film marching on. Credit goes to Colin Firth firstly, who’s decision to remove himself from the picture made room for the perfectly suited voice of Ben Whishaw as Paddington himself. Hugh Bonneville puts in a very entertaining turn as the over-protective semi-villain, whilst Peter Capaldi is equally amusing as the frugal, nosy neighbour. The only real let-down is Kidman, who though not awful, is never thrilling nor nearly as charismatic as her fellow cast.
I didn’t love this film as much as Paddington loves marmalade, but Paddington is certainly a great film. Its humour, wit and character is a joy and the film deals with Britishness with appropriate hands. An underlying historical reflection is nice to see and gives that film an importance rarely present in most children’s films.
Paddington is an utterly-brilliant, utterly-British belter.