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Review: ‘Paddington’ summons cuddly memories of everybody’s favorite British bear |

Review: ‘Paddington’ summons cuddly memories of everybody’s favorite British bear

| Thursday, January 15, 2015 8:55 p.m
The Weinstein Company
In the new film 'Paddington,' the marmalade-loving bear makes his way to London.
The Weinstein Company
The new film 'Paddington' stars Hugh Bonneville.

“Paddington” brings the children’s book hero to the screen in a movie as sweet as orange marmalade, as sentimental as a stuffed toy from childhood.

It’s an utterly charming and endlessly inventive way of bringing a talking bear into present-day London, a film that uses all of the magic of the medium and our fond memories of Michael Bond’s beloved bear to give him life.

In a black-and-white newsreel, we see the bear’s origin story — his “rarest of bears” family discovered by a “Jolly Good” British explorer in “Darkest Peru” in the 1950s. A present-day earthquake sadly sends the bear off to London, where the explorer had assured his aunt and uncle bear that Londoners “will not have forgotten how to treat a stranger.”

But they have. With only memorized, dated British slang from a “Advice for the Travellor in London” LP and a supply of his aunt’s orange marmalade (she got the recipe from the explorer), the bear is lost in brusque, busy London. That is, until the busy, busy Browns see him, take pity on him, take him home and name him after a train station.

A simple scene, but having Mrs. Brown played by the eternally sympathetic Sally Hawkins (“Happy”) makes it work. Naturally, her husband (Hugh Bonneville of “Downton Abbey”) is against the idea. He’s an insurance-risk analyst.

Their son (Samuel Joslin) loves the bear in an instant. The snotty teenage daughter (Madeleine Harris) is on dad’s side.

There’s much kid-friendly kerfuffle about a bear lose in a modern toilet (toothbrushes can clean bear ears), a bear discovering vacuum cleaners and tea and cake. There are Brit cameos — new “Doctor Who” Peter Capaldi is a nosy neighbor, Matt “Little Britain” Lucas is a cabbie and Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent is a German antiques dealer.

And there’s a villain. Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman dons a blonde, pageboy wig and turns her sexy whisper into a menacing one as a natural history museum taxidermist who would love to have “this specimen.”

Ben Whishaw, the new “Q” in the James Bond movies, has an innocent, impeccably polite pitch to his voice that very much suits the bear. And the effects that put the bear on the screen are so good as to make you forget he’s animated.

This is a kids movie and, as such, not given to deep thinking or a challenging story. But, screenwriter-director Paul King manages lovely moments.

Roger Moore reviews movies for Tribune News Service.

Categories: Movies TV
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