Paddington ***

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“Paddington” is a surprisingly touching and funny family film. Usually this kind of live action fare goes the way of “Alvin And The Chipmunks”. This film written and directed by Paul King, actually lets us get to know the characters and gives them real stakes and life issues. This is an uncommonly thoughtful movie about a talking CGI bear.

I have never known much about the character of Paddington or the history of the Brown family but on the basis of this movie I would like to know more. They are a loveable bunch who are fully dimensional characters. We even get to know their histories a little bit. Paddington grew up in Peru with his aunt and uncle. When he was very young they came in contact with an English explorer who urges them to move to London one day and stay with him. Years later when Paddington’s home is destroyed in a hurricane he heads to London on his own in search of the explorer. What he finds is the Brown family who are an eclectic mix.

The family sees him at the train station and take him in to their home, much to the dismay of Mr. Brown. An adventure ensues as they try to solve the mystery of who the mystery explorer was. Not surprisingly Paddington becomes fond of the Brown family and they become fond of him.

What interested me the most was just how intimate we become with the Brown family. We get to see how life and family has changed them over the years. Mr. and Mrs. Brown love each other deeply but have grown apart a bit after having children. The kids are growing in to teenagers and are dealing with life at that age as well.

The side plot involving Nicole Kidman as a Cruella Deville type character seems a little thrown in but does create the crisis at the end of the film where the Brown’s must rescue Paddington before he becomes a museum exibit.

Family movies come and go but none of them really leave a lasting impression on us. “Paddington” is the rare exception that is not only fun for the whole family but also quite engaging.

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