Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Paddington’ Review: Starring Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins & Nicole Kidman

There’s not a single soul who grew up with Paddington Bear that didn’t love him. And if you didn’t grow up with the lovable bear, after you watch this film, you’ll be sure to fall in love with the Peruvian bear just like I did. Director Paul King reignites the story of Paddington Bear in his film, keeping with the old-fashioned charm of the beloved story while adding modern elements.

Based on the character by Michael Bond, Paddington tells the story of an extremely unique bear that once lived in the forests of Peru with his charming bear Aunt and Uncle. After a tragic accident, the bear travels to London, where a British explorer told his Aunt and Uncle they could go and be welcomed with open arms. When the bear arrives to Paddington station in London, he meets a sweet English family who takes him in and names him Paddington.

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Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) has a lot to learn about living life in the big city and around humans. Though the Brown family has agreed to help him get settled in the city, the nervous Mr. Brown (Hugh Bonneville) wants Paddington out of the house as quickly as possible, while the sweet and kind Mrs. Brown (Sally Hawkins) agrees to help the bear find the explorer that once traveled to Peru. The only problem is Millicent (Nicole Kidman), the fearless taxidermist who has been searching for Paddington’s species ever since she was a little girl. When Millicent learns that the bear has made his way to London, she will stop at nothing to get Paddington.

Gorgeously shot by cinematographer Erik Wilson (2013’s The Double) and expertly directed by Paul King, Paddington is a film that both adults and children will enjoy. Ben Whishaw’s voice performance is excellent and endearing while Hugh Bonneville steps out of Downton Abbey and is wonderful as the overprotective father Mr. Brown. Sally Hawkins is always memorable, but here she shines as the sweet mother who adores Paddington right from the start.

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Nicole Kidman is absolutely flawless in the villainous role of the animal collector Millicent. Kidman is fierce, ferocious and determined as the scary and evil woman who collects animals and stuffs them for her versatile collection. The screenplay allows extra time to develop Kidman’s character and dive into her back-story, which is rare for the villain in a children’s movie. Kidman is so stone cold awesome that the screenwriter should make a spin-off about Millicent.

Paddington is a lovely and charming film that is equally gorgeous in photography as it is heartfelt and sincere. The animation of Paddington Bear is perfect and the performances by Whishaw, Bonneville, Hawkins and Kidman truly stand out.

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