The sweet-natured Despicable Me 2 is fun family entertainment, but nothing more.
In 2010, a year dominated by the creepy Toy Story 3 and the predictable Shrek 3, a little animated film called Despicable Me was missed by the Oscar nominating fools over at AMPAS. It wouldn't be long before their error was revealed: heart-warming and downright hilarious, the comedy about an evil madman and his Minions has seen its popularity almost eclipse that of all the Oscar candidates of the same year. Its sequel, the likeable Despicable Me 2, is dominated by the Minions but is not as deep as its predecessor.
When we left Gru (voiced by Steve Carrell), he had renounced his evil path to raise three loveable adopted girls, but not before stealing the Moon and then returning it. Now, the former madman is busy with soccer games, grilling up meats during Agnes's birthday party, and fending off the single neighborhood women. He's also trying to be a respectable businessman, crafting jams and jellies with the help of his Minions and Doctor Nefario (voiced by Russell Brand). This isn't exactly Gru's cup of tea, and soon he's helping the shadowy Anti-Villain League hunt down the thief of a lab and a monster-creating serum. He's strapped to the newbie agent Lucy Wilde (voiced by Kristen Wiig), who Gru sees as overly obnoxious. As Minions begin to disappear, Gru and Lucy track down the elusive El Macho (voiced by Benjamin Bratt) and learn of his sinister plot to use the serum as a prelude to invasion.
DM Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud return, ready to deliver plenty of laughs from Writer Ken Daurio's script. Unfortunately, the paper-thin plot is just an excuse to highlight the many hilarious Minion moments; any semblance of a deep story about relationships - which made the original so rewarding - is not here. While DM2 doesn't pretend to be more than what it is, one would have wished for something more, or at least a better plot involving El Macho. This series is now clearly the Minions to own, and that's a shame only if you don't like Gru or the girls. Gru has such the potential for hilarious badness, and the girls, such centers of attention in the original, are certainly worth developing. Their warm hearts give Gru that extra layer of personality that's more of a distraction here than revealing anything new to the audience about him. Crazy man Ken Jeong (Hangover series) also makes an appearance as a Chinese wig maker, but he's never given the chance to strut his stuff, representing a huge missed opportunity. Having said all of this, it's hard to have any problem with a movie filled with little yellow men cross-dressing, farting, and speaking in an nonsensical language. Their comical distractions prop up any issues the story might have.
In the end, the likeable Despicable Me 2 lacks the charm of the original, but has the Minions to thank for pulling out what could have been a predictable disaster. Its dull second act revs up the action and laughs in a nicely done conclusion, providing plenty of adult humor along the way. And while it won't play at your heart strings like the original, you and the kids will leave the theater having enjoyed the experience. Despicable Me 2 is rated PG and has a runtime of 98 minutes.
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