Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Paddington Review

The Paddington Bear has a very long, prestigious history. He is most famous in British children's literature and television, but he also has a presence all around the world with millions of families. I'm going to be completely honest, Paddington wasn't a part of my life growing up. Thus when I saw the initial teaser, I was confused about what all the fuss was about when so many people became so excited with the knowledge that a Paddington movie was going to happen. Yes, I quickly educated myself. When the actual trailer came out, I wasn't blown away. What kept me hoping was the knowledge that this character is a very beloved character to many, so despite what the trailer was showing me, I decided that this could be a fun family film for Christmas time. Then it got postponed. In the U.S. anyways. It was a smart move actually because the market here was very crowded at Christmas and this January release allowed for the movie to actually break out and perform well. Paddington still came out around Christmas time in his home country, however, and they loved him. That there was a very good sign to me and thus I officially got myself excited for this.

If you know me well enough, you'll know that I am very diverse in my taste of movies and as a part of that I actually really enjoy family movies. With the idea in mind that this was a beloved character and the British loved the movie, I had high hopes for this. But holy freaking cow! I was totally unprepared for the high-octane emotional rollercoaster that I went on during this movie. In case you happen to be in a place like myself with Paddington, what happens in this movie is that there is a British explorer that goes on a trip to Peru and discovers a unique type of bear. While these bears do have their bear-like attributes, they are a lot more human than bear in many ways. Many years pass after this initial discovery and a certain sequence of events happens that I won't spoil that causes one of the younger bears, later named Paddington, to go on a journey from Peru to London to find a new family. This movie is all about Paddington trying to find a home and a family in London, which ends up being a lot harder than he thought.

There's a lot of great things about this movie. Let's start out out with the fact that Paddington is an absolutely adorable character. You can't help but just love the heck out of him. I totally want Paddington to come live with me at my home. That would be fantastic. So many kudos go to the team bringing Paddington to life. The CGI is great. The writing of his character is great. Ben Wishaw, who plays Q in Skyfall, as the voice is great. Everything about Paddington is just excellent. Adding to that are the whole range of emotions that are present in this. I was genuinely laughing hysterically for a lot of the film. The timing of the comedy was brilliant and there's a lot of little details that were done to perfection that made it even better. Good comedies are sometimes hard to come by, which made this movie feel like a breath of fresh air. But it's not just a gag-filled movie like the trailer would lead you to believe. The story has a whole ton of heart. The movie brings you all the feel-goods with Paddington's character, which also makes this movie actually really sad at points as you watch him struggle to fit in. I obviously won't say how this movie turns out, but one thing I didn't expect was to be fighting back tears towards the end. It's just an amazing, well-written story with a lot of strong family-related themes.

In addition to all this, what really makes this work perfectly is the cast of the movie. It's actually rather loaded. I already mentioned Ben Wishaw from Skyfall, who will be reprising that role in Spectre later this year. We also have Michael Gambon, Dumbledore from Harry Potter; Peter Capaldi, the newest Doctor in Doctor Who; Sally Hawkins, who randomly scored an Oscar nomination last year for her work in Blue Jasmine; and the great Nicole Kidman. All of these people did a great job. I even liked the two kids in the movie, Madeline Harris and Samuel Joshlin. But of course if you've seen the previews, you'll know that I have left one big name out and that's because I'm saving the best for last. Hugh Bonneville. I actually didn't know him much at all before this. Looking at his filmography, I'm realizing that this revelation might make Downton Abbey fans mad. Sorry. I haven't watched that show yet. But holy cow! He plays the bitter father in this that doesn't want anything to do with Paddington and he pulls off an amazing performance in that. It's great to see the progression of his character throughout the movie. Had this movie been eligible for the Oscars this year (it will be next year because of the postponed release date), I would've been willing to put his name in the best actor race.

So overall, when push came to shove, I was finally able to say that I was excited for this movie pre-release, but I did not expect it to be even half as good as it was. I was expecting a fun family film. What I got was one of the best family movies that I've seen in a while full of all kind of emotions due to a great cast, great writing, and a great story. Had this come out on Christmas, this definitely would've been considered for my top 10 best movies of the year list and it may have actually made it. There's going to be a heck of a lot of competition for that list this year, so being that it's January I'm not even going to go there. It's also kind of lame calling this the best movie of the year so far. Even though it has been, there's literally been no competition as all the new releases this month have sucked. But we'll see what happens come year's end. The old geezers from the Oscars will probably forget that this movie exists by the time next January arrives, but I sure won't. I'm giving Paddington a 9/10.

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