Paddington is a 2014 British family film directed by Paul King and, although the trailers weren’t promising, it proved to be quite a good film and even magnificent in its own right.
The first thing I noticed about this film is how old-fashioned and traditional it is. It reminded me of all those feel-good family films of the nineties that I grew up with. And the story is, although quite predictable and familiar in that fashion, nevertheless extremely entertaining and engaging from start to finish.
The technical aspects in this movie are absolutely terrific and they definitely help elevate the film to the next level. The direction is surprisingly good, but the art direction and production design is simply astonishing. The Muppets meets Wes Anderson – that’s what this film has been called by some. I honestly think that might be true, but it has to be more of the former, because I absolutely hate Wes Anderson’s films , they are just not for me, so that connection definitely seemed odd to me. But the evident attention to detail that went into this production is amazing to behold and all those wonderful details help the film feel like such a well crafted and rarely well thought-out children’s film.
The next big thing that is certainly a huge plus for this movie is its humor. Wow, never would I expect something like this. The humor is so charming, endearing and filled with so many goofy moments and great lines that can really make you laugh. What of course makes it so good is the fact that this movie can be enjoyed by people of all ages and that is due to the inclusion of various kinds of humor that range from goofy slapstick to British dry humor to pop-culture references. Add to that some excellent messages and wonderful characters and you’ve got a beautiful distraction for the whole family.
Speaking of the characters, the character development here is dealt with surprisingly well. The protagonist is simply endearing, the whole Brown family is interesting and the villain is somewhat funny. But the relationship between Paddington and the father is what drives the film and makes it so human with all the nuances in his character. The acting is also pretty good, not fantastic, but fine nevertheless and serves the purpose.
The pacing and editing are also quite good, but the action is overwhelming and while I know that today’s audiences like that, I dislike too much action and this is the same problem I’ve had with the Toy Story trilogy in that the story, characters and everything is so good, but there is not nearly enough quiet, character-driven or emotional moments to compensate for all that overwhelming action. But that, along with familiar storyline, is the only big flaw I found in this film. Everything else is unexpectedly phenomenal and charming.
All in all, Paddington is a proof that a family film can still be done if it is made with proper care, right amount of humor with all of its kinds, effervescent characters and charming tone and details. It is one of the biggest surprises of 2014 and one of the year’s best films for children.