Paddington 2 ★★★★½

I fear overselling something that's grounded more than anything in kindness, decency and perseverance. Lots of people will see this movie and go, "Well, that was cute," and move right on. Which will be a bloody shame.

The first Paddington was a lovely mix of charm, comedy and action; this one is all of those things, but even better. I've seen many $200 million franchise spectacles that didn't have as nimble a sense of action choreography as director Paul King shows here. The performances never play down to the idea that this is "just a kids' movie," with Brendan Gleeson's surly prison chef a particular delight. And I probably laughed out loud more times during this movie than I have in a comedy in a few years.

Mostly, though, it's exactly the kind of movie parents always claim they want for their children, but too rarely support with their dollars. It features a protagonist who changes other people through his simple, earnest goodness, and embraces the value of seeing people as flawed but redeemable. It's witty without being obnoxious, and satisfies older viewers without being crude or nudgingly referential. We need stories about the power and value of relentless optimism, and so much the better if such a story is also thrilling and hilarious.