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Adapting a story based on slice-of-life mishaps and adventures is never easy for a film, and in an age of childrens' entertainment known for loudness, crassness, and other annoying qualities which seemed to be present in the film's advertising, people were expecting the worst.
Instead, we got a perfectly wonderful film that keeps the spirit and innocence of the original stories.
The plot is like the original: Paddington, a talking marmalade-loving bear from Darkest Peru, ends up at Paddington station in London, and is taken in, clueless about the world, by the Brown family. We get some explanation of his history, and a quest to find the explorer who taught his family how to speak English, fueled by problems living with the Browns, serves as a nice story. For one, the personalities of the Browns, while little like the books, work to establish a family dynamic that might jar with Paddington's innocent chaos, and we later see how he helps each of them become more harmonious with the others. The setting update to a more current-day London does not damage the story in the least, and by having Paddington misunderstand commonplace and relatable current issues encountered by viewers in real life, it feels more natural.
Of course, there's a villain, and this doesn't bother me as much as I thought it might. While it could have been a story fueled completely by family drama and the effects on the Brown household brought by Paddington, that's not really in the spirit of the books, and an over-the-top Dahl-esque villain works surprisingly well with the tone of the stories, despite their lack of bad guys. The villain is an evil taxidermist who wishes to add Paddington to her collection, and her presentation is enjoyably cold and exaggerated.
The production is wonderfully colorful and imaginative, with enchanting sets, and remarkable CGI effects for Paddington himself, who straddles the line between realistic and anthropomorphic very nicely.
The rest of the film's tone is very charming. There are multiple delightful "Paddington disasters" caused by mistakes and coincidences that could only happen to the poor bear, which is dead-on to the books, and there's never any cheaply tasteless comedy. Most of it is endearing visual gags, and the characters interact in very sweet and realistic ways.
Overall, I recommend this film to any fans of the original stories, or any fans of wholesome family entertainment.
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