Clear the decks, grab the children, make a note – there’s a new tradition elbowing its way into Christmas schedules.


Surely Paddington will become a festive favourite alongside those two other London flicks from which it – loosely – draws thematic inspiration – Mary Poppins and Oliver!.

Although the Christmas link is nominal, there is plenty of snow in this gorgeous super-saturated hyper-real London wherein the eponymous bear finds his feet and his family after he stows away from Darkest Peru.

Director Paul King, given the task of translating the much-loved bear from book to silver screen, has taken not only the mechanics of the story but the magic too.

After audiences received a cynical mauling from those ghastly re-booted Mutant Turtles, there was good reason for trepidation. Would Paddington be too knowing? Too modern? Too bolshy? Too annoying?

The answer is “no” to all of these. This Paddington hits the spot. From the moving sequences in Peru at the beginning to Mr Gruber’s gadget-filled antiques shop and on to the performances of Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins as Mr and Mrs Brown, this is an unending treat – charming, moving and very, very funny.

Self-starting chaos

The marmalade-munching duffel-coated newcomer (voiced by Ben Whishaw) finds himself at the station with a Please Look After This Bear, Thank You label around his neck after leaving Aunt Lucy back in the old country.

But the capital appears not to be the welcoming city that he had been told about by the mystery jungle explorer who first introduced the bear family to the joys of the famous orange spread.

Risk analyst Mr Brown knows the odds of likely trouble if they take in the stray but Mrs Brown has room in her heart and their delightful London home for another member of the family. Sage Mrs Bird (Julie Walters) sees that the impish bear is just what the family needs.

Aside from Paddington’s self-starting chaos, trouble is afoot in the shape of meanie minx Millicent (Nicole Kidman) who wishes to add the bear to her taxidermy collection at the Natural History Museum – setting of the epic roof-top climax.

There’s even time and room to cram the cast with cameos from familiar faces like Matt Lucas’s taxi driver and Peter Capaldi’s curtain-twitching neighbour Mr Curry.

And forget any awkward melding of animation and real life. The effects are seamless – the furriness of the bear is hair perfect.

If there is anything modern then it’s the “everyone in London is different, come one, come all” message that is a fitting riposte to a Ukip surge.

But you’re looking for cultural or political resonance shame on you. There’s way too much packed into this plum pudding of a treat to waste time mulling over the dreary rot that exists beyond the cinema door.

Everything a Paddington bear film could be, this is. Enjoy.

Paddington
(PG) 95mins
★★★★★