Following the 2010 hit that won audiences over with a mix of memorable slap-stick and the introduction of a legion of little, yellow minions that have since developed their own cult following, directors, Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, as well as writers, Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, return to continue the story of super-villain, Gru (Steve Carell), who has since left behind his diabolical schemes in favour of raising his three newly adopted girls. In an attempt to re-create and build upon the success of its predecessor, “Despicable Me 2” finds its strength in its delivery of lighthearted humour and villainous mayhem that fans will have come to expect. Yet, in doing so, it also very noticeably veers away from many of the first film’s more ambitious plot points.
When we rejoin Gru, his youngest, Agnes (Elsie Fisher), the tomboy of the trio, Edith (Dana Gaier), and the eldest, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), all are living happily in the suburban neighborhood in which Gru’s secret layer resides. Rather than performing evil deeds for a living, Gru now plays the role of a loving dad who creates and sells an assortment of Jams and Jellies for those nearby. The peaceful period is interrupted, however, when Anti-Villain League agent, Lucy (Kristen Wiig), forces Gru into a meeting with the League where he learns of a diabolical plot that could mean the return of a particularly notorious super villain. In need of his expertise, the League convinces Gru to team up with Lucy and go undercover in order to discover the true identity of their suspect. Of course, it doesn’t take long for all of this to be pushed into sub-plot territory as Gru begins to develop feelings for Lucy.
“You know, you really should announce your weapons after you fire them.”
Keeping much to the same spirit set by the first film, spy gadgets and secret labs play a role in several scenes, while the use of codes and disguises act as nice little homages to films older viewers will certainly recognize. Similarly, although we see him here as a reformed character, the stand-offish nature that made Gru so recognizable the first time around is still played to full effect thanks to the vocal talents of Steve Carell. Even during moments when he’s dressing as a fairy princess or worrying over the girls’ social lives, Gru remains delightfully gruff and suspicious of others despite his change in heart.
This doesn’t stop the super villain plot from almost coming to a complete halt, however. Even before Lucy makes her first appearance, it’s made abundantly clear that it’s the end goal of the movie’s universe to see that Gru gets a girlfriend. Even the antics of Agnes, Edith, and Margo, which offered some of the first film’s best moments, are given much less screen time and relegated to simply reinforcing this point. Agnes finds herself wishing for a mother while Margo suggests that he try online dating. Once Lucy makes her appearance, the film unfolds in a fairly predictable manner that causes even the more action-oriented plot points to feel pretty flat.
“I really hate that chicken.”
But, despite its mundane plot and less than satisfying climax, “Despicable Me 2” does still manage to be a fun and enjoyable film for kids and adults alike. If nothing else, the humour is strong and carries the film even through its slower moments. With Kristen Wiig voicing the endearingly goofy Lucy, she and Carell skilfully deliver lines specifically meant for adults in the audience while also freely playing up the more ridiculous scenes for the kids. The animation, in turn, is used to full effect as the film’s exaggerated character design and bright, cartoonish world work well to compliment the endless stream of slap-stick and oddball personalities parading across the screen. This is especially evident whenever the minions make an appearance, which is basically every ten minutes.
“I’d like to make some toast.”
Although it’s not the most memorable summer movie ever. and it doesn’t completely manage to replicate the experience of its predecessor, “Despicable Me 2” is a simple, charming movie that knows its audience well. So long as you don’t go in expecting too much, you’re bound to have good time.
My Rating: 7/10