Paddington

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As a child, I had never read one of Michael Bond’s best-selling books. I was more of a Curious George fan. Yet I’m sure the fans of the book series will love the whimsical nature the film captures.

The trailers for this looked awful. And the buzz around it was that Colin Firth was dropped as the voice of the bear (replaced by Ben Whishaw). Some were disappointed the movie got a PG rating for a few sexual references, and the fact that a mean taxidermist (Nicole Kidman), wants to kill him. Perhaps at 3 foot 6 inches, he reminded her of ex-husband Tom Cruise.

The opening sequence is a terrific black-and-white newsreel that showed the bear family in Peru. They were a family of bears that were learning to talk, eat marmalade, and wear hats. A snow globe is given as a gift, and an offer for them to come to London. After an earthquake destroys everything, a young bear looks at that broken snowglobe of London and becomes a stow away on a boat heading to the UK.

The CGI bear looks terrific and so does the production design. The cast is solid (Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, and a number of British comedians). It’s the script that has problems. Perhaps marmalade was dropped on it.

They got a little carried away with the slap-stick, and the pacing wasn’t the best. Writer/director Paul King is to blame for the script. The other writer, Hamish McColl, wrote Mr. Bean’s Holiday, so…you see what you’re dealing with.

My idea of good comedian doesn’t include a collection of puns and bathrooms being destroyed.

Yet it’s hard to diss a movie that’s so dang charming. It’s as if Wes Anderson made a kids movie.

Children ages 7 to 14 will adore it, and the parents won’t mind sitting through it. There are worse ways to entertain your kids for a few hours.

If you don’t have a child, it’s probably best you skip it.

It gets 2 stars out of 5 from me, and if they’re going to make a series out of this, I suggest they get stronger scripts written.

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