Paddington is a delightful children’s film that treats its subject matter and audience with intelligence and respect. It’s a story about the beloved teddy bear that begins as an immigrant tale in Northern Peru, focusing on Paddington’s relatives who have raised him since his parents passed away. After an earthquake ravages their home and forces them to explore outward, they decide to visit London in the hopes that they can start anew and be accepted into a culture they have idolized for quite some time. Paddington is adopted into a lovable family with a kind mother (Sally Hawkins) and uptight father (Hugh Bonneville), but they begin to admire his British accent and affable nature. A threat from a taxidermist at the Natural History Museum complicates matters, and creates a tonally off-putting narrative when it jumps between the two stories. Yet Paddington is a rare breed of children’s fare, one that cares compassionately about its central character and treats its narrative with tact and honor. Here’s a film that, while messy and tonally strange, is an odd thrill to watch, one filled with laughter and enough drama to satisfy all audiences.
Grade: ★★★½ (out of 5)