One of 2014’s best movies, Paddington is a lovely, charming and amusing little adventure about a friendly bear looking for a new home.
In time for school holidays, children of all ages are well served by what occurs when a talking bear from ‘Darkest Peru’ lobs in London. Breathe a sigh of relief, parents and care-givers. Paddington isn’t an infuriating or juvenile slog. It’s really quite delightful.
Relating to Paddington’s quest is just as easy as the tiny bear’s ability to be adorable. Nestled deep in the heart of the human race is the search for a home full of love, understanding and stability. We all have experienced the good and bad of ‘home’, and the family relationships associated with it. Most of us want home to be about intimate connections. Too many know the pain when home is not that way. The longing to belong is in us all.
Paddington has grown up with bears who were taught language and manners by a British explorer. Sadly, their home isn’t permanent, so Paddington sets sail for a new life in London. Based on a successful series of kids books, Paddington uses the seamless wonders of computer animation to plonk the walking, talking bear into real-life London. Hilarious for younger and older viewers is how Londoners react as if it’s not flat-out weird to be conversing with a bear. Rather, the oddest thing is how Paddington is a stranger in a strange land. What can be done for a well-mannered, earnest bear who expected a family would instantly adopt him into their London home?
During Paddington’s rollercoaster ride to finding a new home he is increasingly threatened by a cold-blooded taxidermist (Nicole Kidman). Young viewers might be slightly scared by Kidman’s effective baddie. But, like the subtle presence of mature jokes and references, Paddington doesn’t push too far into inappropriate territory. Instead, from laughs to tears, frivolity to seriousness, Paddington maintains a sure course of family-film excellence.
That said, this sweet movie isn’t just sugary. As Australia’s own issues with ‘border protection’ and refugee acceptance continue to fester, Paddington sounds a measured note about the selfishness of not welcoming ‘outsiders’. If you have a Christian faith, expect to be stirred up a bit by the ‘love your neighbour’ challenge of Paddington’s plight. I struggle with extending hospitality, when it’s inconvenient and costly. The second chapter of James reminds us to not show favouritism when it comes to sharing our faith and works. Yet to be so open and welcoming takes effort and commitment.
As a London family called The Browns helps Paddington, their reasons for doing so aren’t always noble. Mr Brown (Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville) is ultra-cautious and would prefer Paddington to be someone else’s problem. But his wife (Sally Hawkins) is an ultra-caring woman, eager to assist. As Mr Brown attempts to offload Paddington without success, his changed attitude to the pleasant Peruvian should not just tug at your heartstrings. It should cause you and your family members, to consider what it means to ‘love your neighbour’. Especially if, unlike the cast of Paddington, the love of God is what fuels your every loving action.
Distributor: Studio Canal
Release Date: December 11