Sunday, May 17, 2015

Family Movie Night: Paddington

Title: Paddington
Director: Paul King
Original Release: 2014
Choice: The Purple Penguin's
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5
via Wikipedia
I loved the Paddington books as a child.   How could one resist a polite, unassuming, marmalade loving bear who makes both friends and trouble with equal ease?  I got a boxed-set of five volumes for Christmas one year.  They were read aloud to me before I read them myself.  I have a particularly fond memory of my mother not being able to make it through the chapter about Paddington on a game show ("Paddington Hits the Jackpot") because she was laughing so hard.


Most of the basic elements of the movie are familiar to any fan of the books.  A bear from Darkest Peru finds himself at Paddington Station in London.  He is taken in by the Browns, a respectable family who live in Windsor Gardens.  They name him for the place where they found him. While it would have been perfectly acceptable to me for the film to reflect the episodic mishap adventures of the books, the filmmakers saw fit to add some padding.  The movie includes a more extensive back story for Paddington (unnecessary but acceptable) and a dark subplot of a museum taxidermist in pursuit of our furry friend (unnecessary and unacceptable).  But even with the extra material, the film achieves a touching sweetness as the Browns gradually come to accept Paddington as a member of the family.

The film's animation is wonderful.  An animated bear among live action humans is not exactly revolutionary in the post-Gollum world but there are other dazzling elements.  A tree painted on the wall of the Browns' staircase changes with the seasons, both narrative and meteorological.  A dollhouse in the attic opens to reveal the entire family home in miniature.  On a toy train in Mr. Gruber's antique shop, we are witness to a formative moment from the proprietor's childhood.  The music's great, too, much of it supplied by D Lime featuring Tobago Crusoe, a very well dressed Cuban street band.

I'm not a huge fan of the extra material but I enjoyed the movie anyway.  I'd probably be up for a sequel, too, even though I'd still be hoping against hope for a closer reflection of the original work. 

12 comments:

  1. I never knew of Paddington as a child and never read the books to my children. When I did find out about this series they were older and picked out their own books.
    The movie looks wonderful but why oh why do "they" think they need to add "padding" to an already full story.
    I understand movie some time need to drop or consolidate characters but to add whole new characters ?
    Wonderful review, now off to Netflix.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. My daughter asked the same question - why? Mind you, she hadn't read the books herself yet (she's reading them now, of course) but she was well aware of my wife's and my disdain for the new material.

      Not enough filmmakers have faith in the power of the original material - of any book. Plus, they're all control freaks and can't resist tinkering.

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  2. "How could one resist a polite, unassuming, marmalade loving bear who makes both friends and trouble with equal ease? "

    That sums it up perfectly and I can't improve on it. What is NOT to like about Paddington? The world needs more Paddington-type movies and less crapola.

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    1. Less crapola! Now, there's a bumper sticker!

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  3. I never read the books and didn't know about them until much, much later in my life. I heard mixed reviews about this film. Good critique

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    1. I liked it more than I expected to. The heart of the story was there. The extras were disappointing and perhaps they'll be wiser with follow up films.

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  4. I knew all about the books, but never got to read them. I imagine it's hard to adapt a children's book because most of the fans will be adults with an imperfect memory of the original. It looks like this at least captures the tone of the books and yes my son is dying to watch it.

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    1. Yes, they got the tone right. I hope you and your son will be able to share Paddington together.

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  5. The books are so delightful--it really upsets me when the movie industry chops them up to suit the story line. This let the movie tell the story of Paddington almost by itself.

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    1. I do love the books. Inspired by the movie, our daughter is reading them for the first time now. She's actually a little old for them but I'm sure she'll enjoy them.

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  6. Judging from the trailer, I couldn't help but chuckle at the sight of this talking Paddington bear. Movie Paddington is smart and exciting so unlike the original polite Paddington who plodded along and won the hearts of millions. Times are changing.

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    1. They got his personality right. The excitement still happens by accident. Like I said, they got the heart of the story. They really didn't need the extras.

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