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SURPRISINGLY GREAT REVIEW OF PADDINGTON

2014 grade: A+
Items on the menu always look better than the real thing… And movie trailers are usually no different… But in this case, the commercials showing the red-hatted bear cleaning his ear with a toothbrush and flooding the house while riding the bathtub downstairs makes PADDINGTON seem banal and childish, when in fact it's an enjoyable, thoughtful and creative odyssey, and even more entertaining than, dare it be said, anything up for Best Picture this year… Take that, Academy snobs!

Beneath those silly scenes and a few jokes that don't always hit the mark, there’s a sturdy plot about Paddington searching for an explorer who we met in the prologue – he discovered a trio of bears in their jungle home and promised safe harbor if ever visiting London, where our furry hero winds up alone on a permanent basis. Attached to a reluctant human family including a snobby father and two bitter children, he finds a true friend in the perky mom/wife till the others follow suit. 

In the Cruella Devillish role is Nicole Kidman, out to kill the adventurous bear for… reasons that shouldn’t be spoiled. And what makes PADDINGTON visually sublime are the inserted shots either depicting the backstory or detailing fantasy sequences, sometimes bathed in a Noirish black & white: making this a children’s film equally engaging for adults and bonafide film buffs, paying stylish homage to classics ranging from AMELIE to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK to THE THIRD MAN, and beyond. OVERALL RANK: Jedi, Rebel, Droid, Sith. 
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