"Please look after this bear... Thank you."
Director Paul King is a self-titled Paddington aficionado and on this evidence there is no safer pair of hands for such a beloved children's property. He fully invests in the character, wisely keeping him front and centre of the whole film (something Michael Bay could have considered when adapting another of my childhood favorites!). And key to the film's success lies in Paddington himself. Our hero is wonderfully realized by CG wizards Framestore and animatronics guru Nick Dudman - a real example of how far and how effective great FX work can offer today's cinema. Not for one moment do you feel that Paddington is anything but the accident-prone but loveable little grizzly from Bond's stories. And then there is Ben Whishaw as Paddington himself. Credit to Colin Firth, who stepped aside when it became clear during production that his voice did not fit the role, but Whishaw conveys the perfect balance between naivety and good nature that puts the final glorious touches to one of the best characters in recent fiction.
It is also to the film makers' credit that the film takes plenty of risks as the story unfolds. Opening with a funny and affectionate poke at the old back-and-white Pathé Newsreels of yesteryear, we are then hit with a devastating earthquake that evokes emotions not felt since the loss of Mufasa and Bambi's mother. Paddington's first experiences of Merry Old England are enough to shame anyone thinking of voting UKIP (yes, perhaps he is an illegal immigrant - but woe betide Farage and his cronies if they even attempt to lay a hand on our intrepid hero!) and his adventures in the Capital are a near-perfect blend of slapstick and farce (Bonneville's ridiculously controversial cross-dressing scene is a wonderful example of that noble British pastime of transvestitism). In fact, it is almost impossible to note any misstep in the entire proceedings. And for that reason, Paddington is the perfect movie for this time of year. Do yourself a favor - get to the cinema and see it!