Paddington Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Nicole Kidman, voice of Ben Whishaw. Directed by Paul King. Rated PG. Opens Friday.
First appearing in 1958, Paddington Bear is a creature of kindness and politeness, far from the wise-cracking, marketable children’s characters of today. Yet somehow the new Paddington movie seems modern while at the same time holding firmly to its quaint, lovely ideals. Ben Whishaw voices the CGI bear, who was raised in darkest Peru under the indirect influence of an English explorer; he loves marmalade. He travels to London and finds a place to stay with the Browns (Hugh Bonneville and a delightful Sally Hawkins) and their children, Judy and Jonathan. Villains can often kill the mood in a children’s film, but here it’s Nicole Kidman as a driven taxidermist, and she makes the role worthwhile. Director and co-writer Paul King includes a few big slapstick moments, but they arise naturally out of the character’s unfamiliarity with the civilized world, and only one brief burp/fart joke enters the proceedings. Perhaps the real appeal of this movie is that good manners never go out of style.