Sunday, April 26, 2015

Video review: "Paddington"

“Paddington,” a British film adaptation of the popular books by Michael Bond, opened in the U.S. without much fanfare or media. In the biz this is known as ‘being dumped into theaters’ -- a practice usually reserved for low-budget fare of dubious quality.

I’m puzzled as to why “Paddington” received this treatment, since it’s probably the best live-action family film thus far in 2015.

Paddington is a young bear from Peru whose home is destroyed, and his elderly aunt and uncle forced into the old bears’ home. He decides to seek out the British explorer who befriended his family years ago and introduced them to the miracle that is marmalade.

He takes the name of the London railway station where he’s stranded and is taken in -- albeit temporarily -- by the Brown family (Sally Hawkins and Hugh Bonneville play the mum and dad).

Paddington is portrayed using some excellent CG animation and the tender voice of Ben Whishaw. He’s a wondrous creation, with his shy charm and signature floppy red hat.

Director Paul King, who write the screenplay with Hamish McColl, keeps the tone light and the action delightfully goofy -- such as a flooded bathtub on the Browns’ top floor that goes for a ride.

Samuel Joslin and Madeleine Harris play the Brown kids, and Nicole Kidman rounds out the cast as the villainess, who’d like to see Paddington stuffed -- and not with marmalade. She’s got a great Cruella de Vil vibe going on.

Here’s hoping this wonderful, gentle movie finds a home of its own on video.

Video extras are a bit skimpy. The DVD has several making-of featurettes: “Meet the Characters,” “When a Bear Comes to Stay” and “From Page to Screen,” plus the “Shine” music video. Step up to the Blu-ray and you add only “The Making of ‘Shine’” featurette.



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