Sunday, 30 November 2014

Paddington ...

Paddington is a 2014 comedy film, directed by Paul King and written by King and Hamish McColl and produced by David Heyman. The film is based on Paddington Bear by Michael Bond. The film stars Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi and Nicole Kidman, with Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington. The film was released in the UK on 28 November 2014.
A young bear originally from Peru with a passion for all things British travels to London in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone at Paddington station, he begins to realise that city life is not all he had imagined. This is until he meets the kindly Brown family, who read the label around his neck—"Please look after this bear"—and offer him a temporary haven.

Directed by     Paul King
Produced by   David Heyman
Screenplay by
Paul King
Hamish McColl
Based on         Paddington Bear
by Michael Bond

Hugh Bonneville
Sally Hawkins
Julie Walters
Jim Broadbent
Peter Capaldi
Nicole Kidman
Ben Whishaw

Music by         Nick Urata
Cinematography         Erik Wilson
Edited by        Mark Everson
Heyday Films
Distributed by            StudioCanal

Release dates 
28 November 2014
Running time  95 minutes
United Kingdom
Language        English
Budget            $50–55 million

Homicidally ever after: did Paddington really need a murderer?
Megalomaniacs, murdering ice queens, deadly robo-cats … why are nice fluffy kids’ films such as Paddington and Postman Pat being overrun by violent villains? Nicholas Barber can’t bear to watch
Nicholas Barber

The new trailer for the imminent Paddington Bear film may have upset the purists among us – it’s all a bit too Harry Potter for my liking – but in general it’s fairly faithful to Michael Bond’s original bear-out-of-water stories. There’s the battered suitcase and the floppy hat. There’s the Brown family and their grumpy neighbour. There’s Paddington’s knack for making a mess and causing a kerfuffle. There’s the ice queen who’s scheming to kill him and display his taxidermicised hide in the Natural History Museum. And there’s the … waaaaiiiit a minute. I may not have read every one of Bond’s books, but I’m pretty sure that the trailer’s peroxide Cruella de Vil impersonator, as played by Nicole Kidman, has strutted in from a different franchise altogether.

We shouldn’t be too surprised. Just as films based on British sitcoms always pack their characters off on a sunshine holiday, no one seems capable of putting an innocent children’s programme on the big screen without turning it into a borderline horror movie. Earlier this year, Postman Pat: The Movie took a fluffy television series about rural village niceness and added in the one element that it had always lacked: a megalomaniac who planned to conquer the world with his army of cybermen. And in 2005, The Magic Roundabout film had Dougal and his chums racing to stop an evil wizard bringing about a new ice age with the aid of his skeleton henchmen. It was almost inevitable, then, that Paddington would be landed with a bloodthirsty nemesis, too. But it’s still as depressing as a mouldy marmalade sandwich.

I admit, I have a personal stake in this: my six-year-old daughter is probably the planet’s most squeamish film-watcher. She refuses point blank to sit through scenes of extreme danger or cruelty, so our viewing options are severely limited. Snow White is out. Sleeping Beauty is out. Finding Nemo was a never-to-be-repeated disaster. The Jungle Book is tolerable as long as we fast-forward past the Shere Khan bits. And Frozen is a favourite because it doesn’t include a typically gothic Disney villain – one reason, I suspect, why it’s now the highest-grossing cartoon ever released. But beyond those … well, think of the last film you saw that was aimed at small children, and the chances are that the characters were almost stabbed, poisoned, melted, or eaten by dinosaurs.

It’s a rule of thumb that goes back to Bambi’s mother being shot by hunters. Actually, it goes right back to the days when no fairytale was complete without someone being blinded or shut in an oven. We’ve always been keen, it seems, on children’s stories that traumatise their target audience. But maybe it’s time for a change. I’ve heard the fashionable academic argument that these macabre narratives prepare youngsters for the fear and grief that await them in later life. But I’m not convinced that the makers of the Postman Pat movie ever had such noble goals in mind when they threw in a homicidal robo-cat with laser-beam eyes. I’m not convinced, either, that the most valuable lesson that our offspring can learn is: “The people you love will die.” They’ll learn it soon enough, anyway, and, when that day comes, it’s not going to be any less painful because they’ve seen Finding Nemo. Wouldn’t it be more helpful to teach them some slightly cheerier lessons? How about, “You can be adventurous without putting yourself in mortal danger” or, “Life can be thrilling even if you’re not being menaced by a criminal mastermind”? In the meantime, shoving some death and destruction into a kids’ film is simply the laziest, least imaginative way of padding it out. And Paddington does not need padding.

I’m not saying that nerve-shredding terror doesn’t have its place in toddlers’ entertainment – perish the thought – and I accept that not every child is as pathetically wimpy as mine. But I’m sure that there must be some other wusses of her age out there. Don’t they deserve to see Paddington without the whole thing turning darker than darkest Peru?

Perhaps we could introduce a quota – say, one children’s film which doesn’t feature a murderous psychopath for every two which do. After all, there are countless grown-up comedies which don’t put their characters in life-threatening peril, so it seems perverse that there are so few of them for pre-teens. Besides, children’s television manages to enthrall and delight its viewers without making them blub their eyes out. Trust me, I watch it for hours and hours and hours every week. But as much as I treasure the time spent with my daughter in front of Old Jack’s Boat and Abney & Teal, I still wish we could watch the odd film together, too.

• Paddington is out on 28 November.

Paddington review – a bear-hug of a family treat
Ben Whishaw proves the perfect voice for a CGI Paddington as endearing as the old 70s favourite
Mark Kermode, Observer film critic

What headline-grabbing scandals have attended the return of Paddington Bear! First, there was his conscious uncoupling from Colin Firth (too old, apparently); next came Nicole Kidman’s announcement that his new movie was too scary for her kids; then outrage as the censors slapped a PG-rating on scenes of innuendo, dangerous behaviour, and extreme marmalade. Now, perhaps most shockingly, comes the revelation that a 21st-century computer-generated big-screen bear can be every bit as endearingly entertaining as his 70s TV stop-motion counterpart. Paddington’s creator, Michael Bond, says he “slept soundly” after seeing the new movie, and those in search of a family-friendly festive film treat will doubtless do the same.

Abandoning darkest Peru after an earthquake, our diminutive hero arrives in London where he proceeds to wreak healing havoc in the home of the Browns; uptight dad Henry (Hugh Bonneville), vivacious mum, Mary (Sally Hawkins), and troubled kids in need of some bear-based bonding. Nicole Kidman’s trigger-happy taxidermist Millicent has other plans, however, seducing creepy neighbour Mr Curry (a splendidly sniffy Peter Capaldi) into helping her steal and stuff the new arrival. It’s terrifically good-hearted fare, painting a colourful portrait of London as a multicultural melting pot with a just a hint of old school Poppins charm.

The jokes are good too, ranging from laugh-out-loud observations about the transformative effects of parenthood (and knowing mentions of “exotic wrestlers”) to slapstick bathroom episodes. Ben Whishaw turns out to be the perfect voice of Paddington (sorry, Colin), his lilting diction at once childlike and wise, his delivery naive yet oddly noble. “Please look after this bear”, says the tag around Paddington’s neck. Rest assured, they have.

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