There have been some discontented mutterings over the PG rating given to the new Paddington movie, so I was a little wary going to see a preview screening with my 4 year old daughter, and I half expected to have to make a swift exit if things got unsuitable for young eyes and ears.
This in itself seems odd, as it’s Paddington Bear. A bear with a hard stare (when required) who has been entertaining children for almost 60 years.
The bear himself greeted and hugged children and adults alike in the foyer ahead of the screening and organisers had provided lots of activities including face painting and hat making, as well as oodles of free sweeties. All very child friendly.
The film, which has been several years in the making, is a charming adventure from deepest Peru to London as the young bear leaves his Peruvian forest home to find a new one in the city. As those of us familiar with Michael Bond’s loveable character know, he finds a home with the Brown family.
Hugh Bonneville plays a grumpy, risk averse Mr Brown and Sally Hawkins is his charming, caring, free-spirited wife. Nicole Kidman plays the villain – a sharp, cold taxidermist who would like to add Paddington to her stuffed animal collection. Yes, my four year old (almost five) was scared of her. Her friend of the same age, however, was not.
There were also sections of the film where both girls squeezed onto my lap as Paddington’s fate looked less than cuddly, but my over-confident reassurance that all would be alright in the end (I hoped!) saved us from having to stumble out of the cinema in the dark.
The film also had plenty of moments that had both adults and children giggling into their marmalade sandwiches, and the inevitable scene or two that left me dewey-eyed.
So back to that PG rating. There were children younger than my daughter who survived the film in full. I only spotted one parent leaving with two youngsters.
A PG rating suggests that it is not entirely suitable for children under 8, and, to be fair, that is not a bad call. If I’m being honest, I’m sure most 6 or 7 year olds will be fine. And plenty of 4 and 5 year olds will enjoy this loveable bear’s adventures. But some may be scared.
The “sexual innuendo” which has contributed to the PG rating would go over most children’s heads – Mr Brown dressed as a cleaning lady who catches the eye of a security guard. There is “mild bad language” which refers to a muttered “bloody”. There is also “mild threat”, referring to some of Paddington’s misadventures, and not surprisingly, my young daughter was far from comfortable with seeing Nicole Kidman with a stun gun.
Of course, every parent knows their child better than the British Board of Film Classification, so it is for each parent to decide.
The film has it’s premiere this Sunday afternoon (23rd November) in Leicester Square, London and is released in the UK on 28th November.