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Just what the doctor ordered. I was a little under-the-weather a few days ago, and while vegetating on the family room sofa, I scheduled a family watch of director Paul King’s “Paddington” on our big screen. It was a good call. “Paddington” is a simple and effervescent charmer, that quickly and absolutely proves, why it became a delightful family hit at the box office. There’s nothing earth-shattering here, just some wholesome fun to enjoy with your spouse and kids. My boys are 10 and 7-years-old, and they loved the movie. Both would certainly watch it again. Hey, you know what…me too.

The bear destined to become Paddington arrives in bustling London by train, after growing up in the darkest jungles of Peru. Bear on a train? Hey, it’s based on the hit series of books by Michael Bond. Paddington talks, is extremely polite, loves marmalade, and carries a suitcase–just accept. Paddington (voiced by the talented Ben Wishaw) is found, and graciously adopted, by the Brown family, but rapidly becomes a bit of a handful. There’s a wonderful set piece as the computer-generated and animatronic character (the effect is flawless) accidentally floods a bathroom, and rides the tub down the Brown home stairs. When the malevolent Millicent Clyde (a scenery-chewing Nicole Kidman) enters the picture though, Paddington is on the verge of becoming an endangered species.

What a marvelous cast this old-fashioned winner has. Hugh Bonneville is the flustered Mr. Brown, and Sally Hawkins (marvelous, as always–once again proving she can do anything) is his loving wife, Mary. The Brown children are played by Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin, and substantial roles are given to fabulous performers like Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Julie Walters and Michael Gambon. Even an almost 90 Michael Bond has a cameo! “Paddington” just works. And do you know what supports that assertion more than anything else? Both of my kids decided to take Teddy bears to bed with them that night. Now, that’s a priceless recommendation.

Grade:  B


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