Fans of the books and the series will enjoy the big screen debut of their favourite marmalade sandwich-loving, hat-sporting, duffel coat-wearing, South American bear.
An English explorer discovers a family of bears - Uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon), Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) and the later named Paddington (Whishaw, replacing Colin Firth- in Darkest Peru, offering a home in London if any of them ever cared to visit. Years later, Paddington makes his way across the sea to the English capital where he begins his search for the unnamed explorer. The Brown family - grumpy dad Bonneville, chirpy mum Hawkins - find the terribly polite bear on the platform at Paddington station and, giving him his name, take him home. However, evil taxidermist Millicent (Kidman) wants to get her hands on the despicable marmalade lover...
A series of misadventures short enough to hold the young audience's attention ensue - Paddington inadvertently upends a pickpocket, Paddington inadvertently floods the top floor of the house, Paddington and Mr. Brown break into the National Geographical Institution (this time on purpose) - but it's all delivered with a loving hand by writer-director Paul King.
The man behind the visual oddities that is The Mighty Boosch and Bunny and the Bull trims back on his eccentric instincts to concentrate on finding ways to connect the episodic events. He does, but if even he didn't it wouldn't matter - Paddington is all about sweetness and charm and it has oodles of that. It's funny too.
It's a nice, warm glow, milk of human kindness kind of a film; IFCO giving it the deserved G rating - what were their British counterparts thinking with their 'mild sex references and mild bad language' PG decision? Maybe it was that earthquake (too dark to see anything) at the start or the flirtation between Bonneville, incognito as a cleaning lady, and Simon Farnaby's security guard. Don't be in any doubt - this is safe for all ages and all ages should love it.
Bonneville does his best Mr. Banks, Hawkins is in the Top Ten Film Mums, and Kidman seems to be enjoying herself as the cartoonish villain. Paddington himself is beautifully rendered. Matt Lucas, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, and Julie Walters turning up in small roles.
If they do think about a sequel, maybe a tag should be put around this film's neck: "Please look after this franchise. Thank you."