Review: Despicable Me 2
PLOT: Guess who’s back? Gru is back! And this one time super villain has now settled into family life with his three adopted daughters. However when a dangerous new criminal comes to town, he is recruited to help stop this despicable bad guy by the Anti-Villain League. Will Gru and a newly assigned lady partner save the day? You can probably bet on it!
In 2010 when DESPICABLE ME introduced the world to an inept “master villain” named Gru and his merry band of misfit minions, it was a wonderful surprise. It was a charming story with colorful characters, a ton of heart and a great message without being overly preachy. With the film’s success and those captivatingly cuddly minions, there was sure to be a sequel and now we have DESPICABLE ME 2. The new film features more of nearly everything. It offers more jokes, more characters and bigger adventures, yet it lacks the honest to goodness soul that worked so well the first time around. Of course it will have every single child wanting a little yellow minion of their own… hell, I want one myself!
Gru (Steve Carrell) has finally retired from his criminal career after his outrageous attempt to steal the moon. With his three little adopted girls Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and the precocious unicorn loving Agnes (Elsie Fisher), the family has grown quite accustomed to each other. So much so that the once uber-villain is now in the jellies and jam business along with his once partner in crime Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand). Things get complicated for the one time villain however after a secret baddie discovers a serum that turns animals into monsters. Soon Gru finds himself recruited to go undercover with a brand new partner Lucy (Kristen Wiig) who is part of the “Anti-Villain League.” The two are investigating a series of store owners in the local mall in hopes to stop what could be dastardly consequences.
With Gru playing detective along with Lucy, there is plenty of time for adventure as the two find themselves scrutinizing a series of possible suspects including Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt) and Floyd (Ken Jeong). The vocal talent works well enough, if not terribly original with the possible exception of Bratt who really surprised me with his colorful work. And as a fan of Wiig, I did enjoy the quirky energy that she brought to her happy-go-lucky, inexperienced agent. And once again, Carrell seems to have a bit of fun with Gru even when the material is all too familiar. Of course, the one thing that really works and the filmmakers are aware of it is the adorable minions who manage to grab a laugh or two at every turn.
The biggest disservice to the original film is how this sequel just takes everything a step too far with a reckless abandon. If you laughed at the “fart gun”, be prepared to suffer through that joke much too often this time around. The over-the-top action sequences also feel like they drag on a bit too long making Gru’s latest adventure far more of a standard kids flick. Even Margo, Edith and Agnes feel like an afterthought as each of the girls gets mixed up in subplots that feel forced and not very interesting. This is especially true for poor Margo who discovers a cute boy at the mall and finds out why they call it a "crush." However the father/daughter sombrero guacamole hat was pretty inspired. The idea of building their family is a nice one which manages to show a little bit of the color that inspired the first, but only for a moment.
As far as a loud and brash animated movie for kids (and possibly adults) this is visually an impressive ride. The 3D works well enough especially with an end credit minion scene that once again proves who the real stars are. Yes, if you like the little yellow minions then you will probably enjoy yourself a little bit. This is their movie and they end up being utilized in the plot quite nicely. DESPICABLE ME 2 is an uninspired sequel that simply goes for the laughs and manages to offer a few charming moments. Not a great movie for sure, but if your kids want to see this there is enough humor to not drive yourself minion crazy. Perhaps when they eventually go for a number three they will be able to bring some of the heart back and make a whole lot more than an adorable toy commercial.