When Variety posted Guy Lodge‘s favorable review of Paul King and David Heyman‘s Paddington on 11.19, my reaction was, no offense, one of mistrust. First, you have to consider the native loyalty factor in any British critic’s review of a British-made film, and second, Lodge can be a tiny bit dweeby. (My suspicions were first aroused during the 2010 Cannes Film Festival when he creamed over Abbas Kiarostami‘s Certified Copy/Copie Conforme.) But during last night’s Boyhood party at the Chateau Marmont I was told by three journalists I know and trust that Paddington really works on its own terms and is quite good and so on. They saw it earlier this week at Harmony Gold/Aidikoff screenings I had blown off. I had presumed it must be a bit of a weak sister if Weinstein/Dimension had decided to give it a mid-January release. If it was a half-decent qualifier for a Best Animated Feature Oscar (and especially with Weinstein having shown Paddington excerpt footage in Cannes last May), why not give it a limited 2104 release in December? But those three guys insist it’s a real performer. On the other hand the clips I’ve seen make it seem awfully broad and geared to kids…I don’t know. Right now Paddington has a 97% Rotten Tomatoes rating. It opens here on 1.16. I’ll be catching a screening early next week.