Not just for kids, Paddington delights all ages with London charm


A.J. Hairston

Michael Bond’s 2007 children’s book Paddington comes to the big screen. Paddington, a lost talking bear, is taken in by a family while he has new adventures in the streets of London.

Morgan White, Photographer

Paddington, an animated movie about a teddy bear, greatly exceeded expectations. Most children’s movies appeal to young audiences, but some simply fall flat, succumbing to the terrible assumption that children only like pretty colors and a basic, repeated plot. Paddington tore down that cliche.

The movie starts off with an adorable, old-timey video, depicting a man from the Geographers Guild of Great Britain exploring “Darkest Peru,” where he finds a new species of bear with a surprising speaking ability. These anthropomorphic bears adopt British culture, including an intense love for marmalade. When the explorer departs, he tells the bears they will always find London welcoming to them. Flash forward some years, and these bears now speak the Queen’s English perfectly, living happily with their nephew, Paddington. Sadly, an earthquake destroys their home and leaves his uncle Pastuzo dead and his aunt Lucy in a retirement home for bears.

Paddington, voiced by Ben Whishaw, makes the transatlantic journey alone, a trip Lucy had dreamed of since being educated in all things English. He arrives at Paddington station full of dreams, promptly crushed by the harsh reality of a less-than-friendly modern London. After being rejected multiple times, Paddington finds the Brown family. The kindly and eccentric mother, Mary, played by delightful Sally Hawkins, offers him a home and christens him Paddington.

All Paddington’s housemates prove eccentric. The Brown’s daughter Judy (Madeleine Harris) suffers from the “serious illness” of embarrassment, their son Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) imagines and creates interesting experiments and toys, while Mr. Brown (Hugh Bonneville) determines that everything and anything screams danger. Mrs. Brown illustrates novels and her kind heart helps Paddington find his way.

Paddington’s running narration of the whole family brings an adorable light. His commentary makes the film perfect for kids, while providing comedy for the adults. The small cinematographic details elevate the movie to the next level, and the overall quality of the production and camerawork prove the film as up to par with more serious films.

My only complaint stands in the taxidermist’s antagonistic characterization. While the other characters feels complex and deep, her character felt basic and generic. Personally, I would enjoy a movie just about Paddington adjusting to London. A movie-companion even remarked on how Paddington’s trip proved stressful enough without the addition of a villain, so her slightly childish character did not take that much away from the film for most viewers.

Regardless of age, the film deserves a watch. Viewers laughed out loud at many parts, completely invested in the plot. I left the theatre ecstatic and entertained. The fact that the filmmakers successfully bring the lovable bear to life with an underlying message of tolerance and acceptance strikes a chord today for both children and adults.

The Chant’s grade: A