I really had no interest in this movie. I had no real exposure to Paddington Bear as a child (seems to be more of a British thing than an American one), kind of chuckled to myself about what a bad sign it was when Colin Firth left the movie and received the first trailer without seeing anything to change my mind. Well, colo(u)r me surprised; Paddington is a phenomenally good movie. The animators create a really great character out of Paddington, very expressive, and Ben Whishaw’s vulnerable, good hearted vocal performance is brilliant. The human cast is equally wonderful: Hugh Bonneville & Sally Hawkins as Paddington’s erstwhile “parents,” Nicole Kidman as a mad taxidermist (no, really) and Peter Capaldi as a grouchy neighbor. Kidman is clearly having a blast and she’s really, really a ton of fun here. Hawkins, always a welcome presence in a movie, brings warmth and affection to the movie without ever crossing the line into being cheesy or cloying. Bonneville, an actor I don’t really recall seeing in anything else, given my shameful ignorance of Downton Abbey, really stole a lot of the movie for me; there’s a genuinely hilarious sequence of he & Paddington attempting to sneak into building at night in which Bonneville is just pure comedy genius. Anyway, this is a movie that is, by turns, exciting, hilarious, sweet and, ultimately, just really lovable. I’m glad I paid attention to the rapturous response this movie got and gave it a shot. Please do the same. Highly recommended. 4 stars.
tl;dr – a wonderful cast, both visual & vocal, help bring Paddington to life in this often thrilling, often hilarious, ultimately sweet and effecting fable. 4 stars.