He might have a penchant for getting into trouble but Paddington has always been the politest of bears. Now the creator of the family favourite has told of his shock after the film version of his adventure stories was deemed unsuitable for young children.
Michael Bond said he was “very upset” after the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) warned that big-screen debut of the children’s book featured sex references, bad language and dangerous behaviour.
Voiced by Ben Wishaw, who replaced Colin Firth, the film, which opens next week, sees the marmalade-loving Paddington despatched from his native jungle, and smuggled on board a boat to England.
The BBFC warns that “parents should consider whether ... content may upset younger, or more sensitive, children” on films awarded a Parental Guidance (PG) certificate.
A homoerotic comic sequence in which “a man disguised as a woman is flirted with by another man” was flagged up by the censors for containing “mild sex references.”
The board also warned: “There are occasional sequences of mild threat when Paddington is chased by the villain who threatens to kill and stuff him, as well as a brief sequence in which Paddington lies unconscious on a table while a taxidermist prepares their tools nearby.”
Dangerous behaviour which may be imitated by children includes “Paddington hiding from a villain inside a refrigerator and riding on a skateboard while holding on to a bus, as well as a brief scene of a boy strapping fireworks to his shoes.”
A single mumbled use of “bloody” also attracted the BBFC’s attention. The censors advised: “Parents should consider whether the content may upset younger, or more sensitive, children.”
Mr Bond, 88, has not yet seen the movie and is said to have not been consulted over the big screen version.
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Bond, who makes a cameo appearance in the film, directed by Paul King, told the Daily Mail: “I’m totally amazed. I’d be very upset. I might not sleep well tonight.”
“I can’t imagine what the sex references are. It doesn’t enter into it with the books, certainly,” said the author, who is due to see the film today.
The live-action film features starring roles for Hugh Bonneville, Peter Capaldi and Nicole Kidman. Producers replaced Firth with Whishaw after The King’s Speech star admitted he was having trouble finding Paddington’s voice.
Filmgoers have questioned the consistency of the BBFC’s ratings. Despite scenes of violence, TheHunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 film, which features public executions, corpses being devoured by wild animals and the bombing of a hospital, was awarded a 12A certificate meaning it be can be seen by children of any age as long as they are accompanied by an adult.
Recent children’s films awarded a Universal certificate include The Lego Movie, Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University. But the hit film Frozen (mild threat) and How To Train Your Dragon 2 (mild violence and threat) were awarded a PG certificate.
Paddington has already prompted parodies by web users ahead of its release. A “creepy Paddington” Tumblr has hundreds of submissions of the loveable bear superimposed on to horror film posters.
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