(On Cable TV, November 2018) Sequels aren’t supposed to be better than the original, especially when the first film is already very good, but the Paddington series is something special. Correcting some of the few but glaring missteps of its predecessor, Paddington 2 further develops its characters, boasts of a much-improved villain, and never distances itself from the inspired lunacy of the first film. Much of the credit goes to writer/director Paul King, who once again concocts a complex blend of whimsical writing, good performances and top-notch special effects. The story here is a bit beside the point as much of the sheer joy of Paddington 2 comes from the asides, the execution or the sight gags. Paddington-the-bear himself remains as optimistic a figure as can be imagined, even when wrongly sent to prison. It’s a testament to the film’s innate good-naturedness that even prison proves to be a fun experience in Paddington-world, as his sheer force of optimism managers to transform the environment itself. The world is simply better with Paddington, and that goes for the movie too. Much of the film is like the first one at one exception: a much-better villain, with Hugh Grant playing a washed-up actor for all it’s worth. Grant is clearly having a lot of fun here, and it’s contagious. Better yet is that the villain is matched to the universe of the film—the original Paddington sinned by having a villain that was disturbingly too dark for the setting. Here the tone is more even and just as delightful. Stay for the credits—Paddington 2 holds back one of its best sequences (a musical number!) for the very end. This is one kid’s movie that will charm even the adults.