Tag Archives: humour

Movie review – Paddington

How useful it is to have young nephews and nieces.

Without Ben (10), Jessica and Lucy (5), Gill and I would have struggled to fit the movie-going demographic at the 10:20 am performance of Paddington at Guildford Odeon on a Tuesday morning, just before Christmas.

I can see the lurid Surrey Advertiser headline writ large: Paedophile suspect arrested at Paddington performance in Guildford. Handcuffed and led away in front of the shocked audience – average age 12 1/2 – Godalming resident Andrew Morris (57) was heard screaming “but I really do like marmalade sandwiches….”

What a great film this is, no matter what your age. It will appeal as much to my generation, brought up on the Michael Bond book, as it will to the current crop of wow-me-with-special-effects-or-leave-me-at-home children, spoiled by ever larger budgets and CGI trickery.

Having been the subject of countless books and TV episodes, Paddington Bear is coming to the big screen for the very first time in a magical adventure film.

With an all-star cast acting alongside Paddington, Michael Bond’s beloved creation is being brought to life by producer David Heyman (the Harry Potter films, Gravity), director Paul King (Come Fly With Me, The Mighty Boosh) and the Oscar-winning special effects team behind Gravity, Harry Potter and many more.

I won’t spoil the plot. Suffice to say that it’s a heart-warming tale of a talking bear leaving his Peruvian jungle home and arriving in England, in search of a new life and marmalade sandwiches. But London is not as friendly as an old explorer had led his family to believe…and there’s also the wickedly glamorous taxidermist (Nicole Kidman) to contend with.

A splendid cast – of both warm bodies and evocative voices – gives the live action story a magical soul. And clever injections of verbal and visual humour mean it appeals as much to 50 somethings as to 5 year-olds. Really.

Grab a child – preferably one you know – and see it now.

Paddington Bear Movie Poster

Book review – Us by David Nicholls

I feel like I’ve grown up with David Nicholls.

Starter for Ten, The Understudy and the global phenomenon One Day. All written in a similar style, full of wit, poignancy and offbeat characters, I wonder how autobiographical each one is….

Us is a bitter-sweet dissection of the relationship between Douglas – a structured scientist and traditional disciplinarian – and Connie, his wayward, beautiful and artistic wife.

After 20 years of marriage Connie announces that she’s probably leaving Douglas. But they agree to go ahead with their Grand Tour of Europe, probably the last family holiday with Albie, their stroppy and lost 17 year-old son.

The holiday doesn’t quite go to plan and Douglas ends up confronting some of his demons in a series of helter-skelter misadventures across Europe, few of which were on his written itinerary.

As always, the writer’s characterisation is brilliant. Douglas is maddeningly unable to cut Albie much slack, trying to impose a scientist’s logical thinking onto a confused teenager in search of anything but structure, at the same time as Albie wrestles with his own challenges

The Grand Tour mishaps are neatly interwoven with the history of Douglas and Connie’s relationship, and other incidents that give some understanding of the present father and son dynamic. If there is any dynamism in something that’s so broken?

I embraced Us in much the same way I described bookish immersion here.  And I’m already looking forward to the movie version of Us, anticipating who might play the main characters in this deftly woven story.

And please don’t make us wait too long for the next instalment of your literary life, Mr Nicholls……

Book review – Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace

I’ve just finished one of those books where you’ve become so engaged – emotionally invested as the psycho-babblers might say – that you’re in a quandary over how to read the last 100 pages.

You’ve come to love the characters so much that you’ve finagled yourself into the narrative too. Well, they won’t notice, will they….?

You want to luxuriate in that booky pleasure and become one of their inner circle of off-the-wall friends….but at the same time you really want to know how the quirky plot will get resolved.

Welcome to the fun and immersive world of Charlotte Street, Danny Wallace’s first novel, published in 2012.

It’s all about a man who one night helps a girl. Just for a second. And there’s a moment between them. But then it’s over. She disappears. But in his hands, he realises he’s still got something of hers…

Her disposable camera. So what should he do? Develop the film? Or forget about her? He develops the film. Of course he does. And he looks at her photos. And that’s when he spots something very unusual indeed…

That’s the official synopsis, lifted from Danny’s website. But it’s really more about the characters than the plot. Well, the plot is clever and funny….but as you turn the 400 pages you live and enjoy, sometimes suffer, the characters’ lives with them long before the clever, funny plot resolves itself.

The narrator and central character is Jason Priestley. No, not the Beverley Hills 90210 Jason Priestley, as Danny’s Jason frequently has to explain.

He’s been a knob. He has a shot at redemption, but blows it. Several times. He gives up hope. He redeems himself just in time. He regains hope.

But wow, the story is weaved brilliantly around that over simplified summary of Jason’s character using some original plot development techniques and a motley crew of friends and passing acquaintances.

I get the feeling Danny is clever and funny. One of his writing techniques is clever and funny repetition…like always mentioning that Jason lives with his best mate Dev on the Caledonian Road, above a videogame shop between a Polish newsagents and that place that everyone thought was a brothel, but wasn’t.

But it’s a heartwarming, emotional, witty, sad, insightful novel that I know you’ll enjoy too.

And yes, it’s also very clever and very funny.