King assumes that the viewer has a minimal association with Paddington, which is the case for this viewer. The books by Michael Bond and Peddy Fortnum are distilled into a series of traits. The bears are shown to have a love for marmalade, which they make themselves on the one day of the year the oranges are perfectly ripe. The Browns dress Paddington in old hand-me-downs that the Brown children each wore, a fashion choice that can only endear him to the skeptical Mr. Brown. Paddington gives a rude person his hard stare, accompanied by zooms and foreboding music to communicate how serious such a look is.
These are mere habits and window dressing next to the essence of the character, which is a foundational goodness and faith in humanity. Paddington is simply a lovable character, able to earn laughs from gags that have been used hundreds of times. The conclusion to a scene in which Paddington tells Mr. Brown what his bear name is can be seen coming from miles away, but King makes it seem like this is the first time such a thing has ever been put to film. A big part of this scene’s success, and the film’s as well, is Whishaw’s guileless performance and the animation of the character, calibrated verbal inflection translated masterfully onto an expressive series of one’s and zero’s. When this winsome character is coupled with evergreen set pieces of Paddington-triggered Rube Goldberg devices leading to chaos and havoc, the film essentially can’t miss.
Paddington is an effortless charmer of a film, as soft and fluffy as a jungle bear post-blow drying session. King, a veteran of TV comic staples like Garth Marengi’s Dark Place and the Mighty Boosh, has made something wholesome but not saccharine, crowd-pleasing but not dumbed down. Paddington is the kind of film one hopes their kids might enjoy, if only so parents don’t have to suffer by seeing it time after time. This viewer could listen to the growls, chomps, and blinks that form Paddington’s bear name on a loop. B