The young bear gentleman star of more than 20 books by Michael Bond—and several iterations on television—comes to movie screens for the first time. And, in one of the more pleasant surprises in some time, it’s a visually creative, energetic, thoroughly satisfying film. The surprise derives mainly from the expectation that the warm charm and old-world Britishness of Bond’s stories are irreproducible in modern times, but the movie makes the wise choice of being about the kind of nostalgia Paddington fans feel for the stories, set as it is in a cold modern world where the niceties of the past are faint memories. The key to it working is that the past is not over-romanticized, and the present is not over-demonized. Well, that and the CGI bear is actually cute—because no matter how good the filmmaking or how measured the writing is, if the bear isn't cute, Paddington doesn’t work. And it is (abetted by Ben Whishaw’s note-perfect voice performance), so it does. The humans—particularly an inspired Nicole Kidman as the villain—are all ideally cast, and all seem to be having a wonderful time.
Director: Paul King
Producer: David Heyman, Rosie Allison and Jeremy Clifford
Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Nicole Kidman, Madeleine Harris, Samuel Joslin, Ben Whishaw, Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon