paddingtonTotally sweet and gentle, this is a Brit-ified STUART LITTLE, with Paddington being another cross-species fish out of water (in this case a bear not a mouse) come to live in a strange place with a nuclear family. There’s the tiniest bit of a message at the end about fitting in even though you’re different, or maybe even because you’re different, but this is a movie for 9-year-olds — and a lovely one at that — which keeps it simple. It’s also restrained (it doesn’t assault the senses) and soothing… once you get past the sad reason Paddington has to make his journey to London. Even with its share of nod-wink “adult” jokes, the movie feels timeless, like older children’s literature. (Paddington first appeared in 1958.) The integration of CGI and live action is so seamless, I was never brought out of the story by something that looked like an obvious effect. And while Paddington “himself” has to carry the movie, there’s charming assistance from Sally Hawkins (the amazing “Poppy” from Mike Leigh’s HAPPY-GO-LUCKY) and a bunch of cameos from veteran British film actors.(Nicole Kidman is a dud as the villain.) A question: In this time of tots with computer skills playing video games before they can read and an assaultive culture of football, superheroes and crassness, can a movie that just wants to be nice succeed? — Jeff Schultz


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