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Article by Teddy Durgin

Bear with me... Paddington is a GREAT movie!

It's been a long time since a movie so thoroughly charmed me as "Paddington" has. And when I say "charmed," I mean the kind of warm-all-over, cookies-in-the-oven, where's-my-favorite-blankey, can-I-get-a-hug-from-grandma kind of charmed. Here's a flick that is a veritable tonic of sincerity, open-heartedness and good feelings. I really loved this flick. If you want to be up on the issues of the day, yeah, go check out "American Sniper" and/or "Selma." But if you just want to get lost in a movie for an hour and a half and be entertained, "Paddington" is your flick regardless of how old you are. There is not a single moment in this film that isn't full of wit, whimsy or invention. "Paddington" is an updated, live-action version of the classic children's story about a walking, talking bear (voice of Ben Whishaw), who travels from the "darkest Peru" to London in search of a home and a family. As in the books, that family ends up being the Browns. Henry Brown (Hugh Bonneville) is a stiff insurance claims adjustor who only sees liability risk in taking a bear into his home. Mary Brown (Sally Hawkins) is the eternally sunny and positive matriarch of the family and the first to warm up to their new, furry houseguest. Hey, just having people in a film named Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins is charming in and of itself. I'd love to be able to introduce myself as "Hugh Bonneville!" Anyhoo, rounding out the family is Judy Brown (Madeleine Harris), the sullen teenager who doesn't want her friends to know they've taken a bear in because it'll ruin her reputation at school. And young Jonathan Brown (Samuel Joslin) is all boy - a kid who dreams of becoming an astronaut and marvels at Paddington's dexterity in climbing up and sliding down banisters. The Brown family home is one of those great examples of art direction and set design that will either make you want to put your house on the market and find a flat like that of your own, or dip way, way into your savings and try to mimic every piece of decor in it. There is a staircase mural that, by itself, is cooler than 90 percent of the CGI in the last "Hobbit" flick. There is a villainess in the flick played by Nicole Kidman, who relishes her part here so much that her forehead actually moves once or twice. She wants to stuff Paddington and put him on display in a nature museum. Her motives? I'll leave them up to your discovery. Nothing happens to Paddington in the film that will scar or mar your littlest ones, by the way. That's mostly because the film keeps a light touch throughout. There's a lot of dry British humor in the film. Really, only in London with those great accents could Paddington be immediately accepted as a rare breed of bear who can walk, talk, sip tea and enjoy a good orange marmalade. And some of the small, incidental scenes just totally sell the picture, such as a really sweet and completely dialogue-free bit involving a Royal guard sharing his rain cover with Paddington and finding there is more under his hat and Paddington's hat than meets the eye. It's like a scene out of a classic silent film. I have no idea why this film was dumped in January for North American audiences. It's been out in the U.K. and Europe for several weeks and has proven to be a major hit there. Here's hoping word of mouth compels U.S. and Canadian family audiences especially to leave their darkest suburban haunts and venture out to see what I am certain will be one of my favorite films of 2015.

"Paddington" is rated PG for mild action and rude humor.


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