Paddington Bear hits the big screen

'I've always had great respect for Paddington… He is a British institution.' - Stephen Fry

It's happening! If everything goes according to plan, sometime in 2014 Michael Bond's beloved literary creation will finally clamber onto the big screen... 56 years after the first tale of the marmalade-loving bear was published. And decades after the classic 70s TV series crossed the Atlantic and won popularity for the character in the US.

Although a movie adaptation has been in the works since 2007, only in May this year did Harry Potter producer David Heyman - who is guiding the StudioCanal co-project - properly announce the film and explain how development was progressing. Earlier this week the atmospheric teaser poster was unveiled as well for the movie, which sees a CGI Paddington interacting with human actors in contemporary London.

I'm a big Paddington fan, and when I travel a small Paddington plushie always comes along in my backpack. So what's so great about the furry stowaway from Deepest Darkest Peru? Why should we be excited about the upcoming movie?

Well, the character of Paddington isn't soft-witted like fellow British bear Winnie the Pooh and he's not as vanilla as Rupert. Sure he's accident-prone and gullible but Paddington is lovably principled, polite, determined and fiercely loyal to his friends (like Portobello Road antiques dealer Mr Gruber) and his adoptive family, the Browns. Plus, Paddington gives the most amazing "hard stares" to anyone who disappoints or antagonises him.

Heyman has said something similar about the appeal of the scruffy little bear. "Paddington is a universally loved character," he says, "treasured for his optimism, his sense of fair play, and his perfect manners – and, of course, for his unintentional talent for comic chaos."

Now many a time a teaser poster has been released only for the project to stall in the development stage. Case in point right here. However, with director Paul King - responsible for the acclaimed Mighty Boosh TV series - well into pre-production on Paddington, I think we can be confident that the film is coming.

And evidently Paddington fans shouldn't be worried that the movie will be another Scooby Doo, The Smurfs, Garfield and Alvin and the Chipmunks. Despite using the same "hybrid" animation/live-action approach as these brain dead  efforts, Heyman's comment that  "Michael Bond's books offer such wit and wonder" suggest that Paddington: The Movie won't be a dumbed down family comedy.

It also won't be without substance, apparently. Although not based on any one specific Paddington book, the film will be part origin story, picking and choosing from the various tales in which Paddington adjusts to London life after the Brown family find him sitting forlorn in Paddington Train Station. Heyman explains,“(Paddington) will be a celebration of Britishness... This is a story about finding a home, about being an outsider, about finding a place and being true to yourself. It’s a story that will appeal in all sorts of ways.”

I'm holding thumbs about the fidelity of the Paddington film to its source material, but seeing as it's being made by Brits, hopefully the lighthearted, distinctly English tone and content required will be spot-on.

P.S. Dear casting gods Hugh Laurie for the Browns' nasty neighbour Mr Curry, please.


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