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The sequel to the big-hearted film debut of the small bear from darkest Peru is a full-on charm offensive of a movie. And Paddington, with his ingrained decency, generosity of spirit and unshakable faith in the value of good manners, cements himself as a slightly sticky beacon of hope for these dark and unsettled times. If the first film was a pro-immigration rallying call for multiculturalism, the second explores themes only a bear’s-hair-breadth less political. Paddington wants to buy a handmade pop-up book for his Aunt Lucy’s birthday and sets out to graft honestly, if chaotically, to earn the money, only to have the book snatched away by the chicanery of a showboating actor who believes himself immune from suspicion by virtue of the nonstick coating provided by his celebrity.

Errant luvvie Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant on deliriously hammy form) is just one of the moreish treats in this gelato-hued comedic feast. The film retains the Keatonesque physical comedy – like all the finest silent clowns, Paddington is endearingly earnest, even as he dangles from the ceiling fan of a barber shop. But visually, it’s more arresting than the first film – there’s a precision to the framing and to the meticulous palette, which evokes the work of Wes Anderson. Meanwhile, an appealing animated sequence nods towards the homespun naivety of Michel Gondry’s Be Kind, Rewind.

And although the bear himself may be sugar-coated, or at least marmalade-coated, the peril here is every bit as acute as in the first film. Rather than a renegade taxidermist with a scalpel and a penchant for fetish wear, the climax this time is a breathlessly tense underwater escape sequence.

And it’s this – the fact that writer/director Paul King is willing to take children out of their comfort zone, to tap into fears of disappointment, desertion and possible death – which makes Paddington 2 something to treasure rather than just to entertain.