Monday, February 9, 2015

Paddington [2014]

MPAA (PG)  CNS/USCCB (A-II)  ChicagoTribune (3 Stars) (3 Stars)  AVClub (B)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (C. Lemire) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

Paddington [2014] (screenplay and directed by Paul King, screen story by Harnish McColl and Paul King, based on the Paddington books [en.wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] by Michael Bond [en.wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb]) is another honestly delightful to come to the States this time of year (surprisingly after Christmas). 

To be honest, I didn't see the film until now, in good part because I "didn't get it." A talking bear adjusting to life in London.  Wonderful, why? ;-)  Well ... 2 minutes into the film, I understood why and boy was I embarrassed to have dismissed this _lovely_ children's movie before then.

Paddington [en.wikip] [IMDb] (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is posited to have come from "a group of highly intelligent, indeed talking, bears living in the deepest and darkest jungles of Peru."  A British explorer happened upon these surprising, highly intelligent bears, some 40 years back, making lasting impression on them.   After spending a couple of years with them, the explorer set-off to return to his country, but left them an invitation: "If you so desire, find a way to come to England.  You'll always be welcome there."

Well, for forty-or-so years there was no particular reason for the bears to go to England.  However, after a devastating earthquake, Paddington's aunt Lucy (voiced by Imelda Staunton) sends him on his way, with only a pack full of marmalade (something that the bears learned to love as a result of the British explorer's visit) and a tag which simply said: "Kindly take care of this bear."  She wrote the tag with those words because she remembered that the British explorer had told the bears that during World War II, when England's children were being evacuated from the cities, often with no clear place to go, children often wore similar tags like this and were taken-in by families in the countryside and cared for as if they were their own.  After an earthquake seemingly as devastating as the Blitz, aunt Lucy figured that Londoners would take care of her bear in the same way ...

Well ... when Paddington, who stows-away on a ship to England arrives in London, initially NOBODY seems to notice him.  Now mind you, it wasn't if they found him FRIGHTENING (he was A BEAR after all ;-).  Nor did they find him ODD (he was A BEAR who SPOKE PERFECT if somewhat antiquated ENGLISH ... Paddington's uncle (voiced by Michael Gambon) would listen to an English "Learn a Language" record left him by the kindly "British explorer").  Apparently, TOO BUSY with their own concerns, THEY JUST DIDN'T SEEM TO SEE THIS REMARKABLE TALKING BEAR (in, again, a somewhat dated "explorer's red hat") AT ALL ;-)

Well somebody eventually does see him -- Mary Brown (played by Sally Hawkins) -- standing there, at Paddington Station (from hence the bear comes to get his name), wet, and "in the rain" (note that Paddington's uncle's English language record noted that "Londoners have 107 distinct ways to describe rain." ;-).  She comes over to him (even though he is a bear) and asks him if he needs help He responds that, yes, he did need some help (This, of course, despite being ... A BEAR).  And in the name of her family she invites him to her home ;-).

Now, the rest of the family was not necessarily all that excited about HAVING A (STRANGE) BEAR coming to their home ;-). 

Mary's sensible husband, Henry, actually even a "risk analyst" for an insurance company, immediately counseled against the idea calculating, on a napkin actually, that THE STRANGE TALKING BEAR'S PRESENCE in their house "increases the risk of danger" to them "by at least 4000%" ;-).  Approaching teenage-hood daughter Judy (played by Madeleine Harris) declared with all the solemnity of someone approaching teenage-hood that having A STRANGE TALKING BEAR in the house would be "STUPID."  After all, how many of her classmates and friends HAD STRANGE TALKING BEARS IN _THEIR_ HOUSES?  (And it's REALLY IMPORTANT to be "just like EVERYBODY ELSE" ;-). Their neighbor comes to question what having A STRANGE TALKING BEAR "AROUND" would do to "the peace and tranquility of the neighborhood" ;-).  Only 10 year old son, Jonathan (played by Samuel Joslin) seemed to "be cool" with having THE STRANGE TALKING BEAR, PADDINGTON, around (besides, of course, his mother).  But that seemed to be in good part because since PADDINGTON WAS ALSO "JUST LEARNING TO GET AROUND" HE WAS ACTING KINDA LIKE A 10-Y/O AS WELL (helping Jonathan to get his "apparently never been young" / "über-sensible dad" off his back ;-)


Much ensues ;-)

It all makes for a lovely parable about "entertaining strangers" [Heb 13:2].

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