Paddington Bear is the latest retro children’s character to get the big blockbuster treatment. We were worried the magic might be lost with all that CGI, but we were absolutely charmed by the film. Before you see it with your children, let us reveal a few things that surprised us…
1. The beginning is as sad as Finding Nemo
We didn’t expect to cry within the first 10 minutes, but it happened. Luckily it was dark and our sobs were muffled by the munching of popcorn. But there’s no way of getting around it: poor old Paddington’s back story is sad. It’s also completely necessary to explain how he has perfect English, why he loves marmalade so much and where that peculiar red hat comes from. Of course, delving into the little bear’s past means that by the time he arrives at Paddington train station with a ‘Please look after this bear’ tag around his neck, he’s completely won you over. And it’s a good job you’re on his side, because this little bear is going to take you on quite an adventure…
2. It makes adults laugh out loud
Paddington is a rather clumsy bear and his escapades made everyone in the cinema laugh out loud. Quite early on he has his first ever encounter with a bathroom – and somehow manages to sail down the staircase in the bathtub on a wave of toilet water. The kids insist ‘the bath bit’ was their favourite part of the whole film and roared with laughter. We would have thought the slapstick comedy would be too obvious for adults, but something about the music, Paddington’s adorable face and the comic timing was spot on – so parents had a good giggle too.
3. It’s full of British charm
He might be from deepest darkest Peru, but Paddington has always dreamed of coming to London. While it drizzles and then chucks it down, he quickly discovers just why the British have 42 different words for rain – but he’s not disappointed. How can he be with a cheeky cabbie played by Matt Lucas showing him the sights? There’s also a sprinkle of Harry Potter-style magic thanks to the owner of an antique shop on Portobello Road played by Jim Broadbent, and a Queen’s Guard that pulls a full afternoon tea out from under his hat.
4. You’ll recognise actors from your favourite TV shows
There are a lot of familiar faces playing parts both big and small in this Brit-led film. Hugh Bonneville’s bumbling Mr Brown is just Downton Abbey‘s Lord Grantham brought up to date, and Doctor Who‘s Peter Capaldi is great to watch as the peculiar Mr Curry. You’ll also spot Peep Show‘s Super Hans picking pockets and of course Matt Lucas playing a comical London cabbie.
5. There’s a moment of pure peril
But it’s not all fun and games and there’s a rather nasty baddy played by Nicole Kidman who would give Cruella DeVil a run for her money. Millicent wants to turn the little bear into a stuffed display at the National History Museum. In heart-wrenching Toy Story 3-style the sinister taxidermist’s scheming very nearly works, causing one little boy in the front row to shriek “Paddington!” at the top of his voice. And the rest of us were right there with him.