Rachel Seo, Photojournalist

Please look after this bear.

I first met Paddington when I was in fourth grade and home-schooled, curled up on my bed, desperately trying to keep the pages of Michael Bond’s tattered old book from falling out.

Now I’m a sophomore at YLHS. I haven’t picked up A Bear Called Paddington in a while, but I still remember the humorous situations and British mannerisms that characterized Bond’s books.

So when I first heard about the Paddington movies, I was immediately skeptical. What Paddington lover wouldn’t be? After all, the faraway movie people had massacred another of my childhood favorites, Ramona and Beezus, and plus, Nicole Kidman had been set to star. Nicole Kidman. In my fantastical swirling of doubts, I could not imagine how Nicole Kidman would capture the quaint, old-fashioned essence of Paddington. (I mean, seriously. She’d been in Before I Go To Sleep. Please.)

Despite my misgivings, however, the movie itself earned an array of stellar reviews that I could not ignore. So when a rainy Saturday emerged out of the blue, I took the opportunity to go see the movie Paddington.

I am pleased to say that the movie is just as heartwarming and quirky as the books are. Although there are some major plot differences between the two, director Paul King and the rest of his crew somehow captured the spirit of Bond’s books and translated it to the big screen in a moving picture that is surprisingly delightful.

After a young bear’s home in Darkest Peru is destroyed by a massive earthquake, his aunt Lucy sends him to London in hopes of finding someone who will adopt him. There, a family named the Browns takes him in, somewhat grudgingly. (After all, it’s quite out of the normal to have to adopt a bear sitting on the platform at Paddington train station.) Somehow, it only takes an overflowing bath, a hunt for a long-lost explorer, and an evil taxidermist to bring them all together and to show the meaning of a true family.

Paddington’s plot was cute: simple enough for young minds to follow, yet complicated enough to keep everyone on his or her toes. I remember holding my breath at several points during the story and sucking my breath in at certain intervals because, well, it was that suspenseful. (And remember, this is coming from a jaded fifteen-year-old’s point of view.)

The acting was flawless as well. Hugh Bonneville, Ben Whishaw, Julie Walters, and Sally Hawkins all starred in the movie, along with the aforementioned Nicole Kidman. Their performances were in tuned to the movie’s charming innocence, and, for lack of a better phrase, I loved their portrayal of their characters.

With the CGI, however, there were a few minor difficulties. While Paddington looked real enough, at one point I saw Jonathan Brown (played by Samuel Joslin) stare at the space above Paddington’s head, as opposed to right at it. It may have just been a trick of my eyes, but that instant jarred the realism of the story slightly. The plot itself picked up and drew me back in, however, so I wouldn’t be scared of any tactical flaws–it was a mere triviality.

As for theme, it centered on the few main ones that populate children’s movies. The importance of family, pressing on amidst hard times, and finding love where one least expects it have all been done before, but Paddington portrays each of these in varying shades that complement its humor. Kiannah Dole (10) agrees, saying, “I thought it was really cute, and I liked the message because it was about family, and it reminded me of my own family.”

All in all, Paddington was a pleasant movie. It won’t reach the heights of Frozen (I mean, what movie can ever compare?), but it certainly won’t be a flop like Ramona and Beezus, or even an average movie like Wreck-It Ralph. No, Paddington is in a class of its own–low-profile enough not to be a box-office blowout, but fresh and clean and whimsical enough to satisfy the audiences who take time to see it.