Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: July 3, 2013
Directed by: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
OVERVIEW – Despicable Me 2
When Gru, the character at the heart of the first “Despicable Me,” last graced movie theater screens, he had gotten over his evil-villain tendencies and had grown to love the young girls he had kidnapped for nefarious purposes. His soft underbelly had been exposed, and he seemed to be all the better for it. Fast forward to “Despicable Me 2,” and Gru has completely abandoned his former life in order to embrace fatherhood. He is living happily with Margo, Edith, and Agnes.
The plot of the film begins in earnest when Gru is approached by Lucy Wilde of the Anti-Villain League to do some work. She and her boss, Silas Ramsbottom, figure that, since Gru used to be a villain, he could use his evil knowledge to help them find a mysterious supervillain named Dr. Nefario who is about to put his master plan into action. This plan includes mass destruction and world domination, things Gru would have salivated to achieve before he was transformed into a good guy. Now, he wants to help Lucy and Silas find Dr. Nefario, but he fears it would cut into his quality time with his daughters. Gru is a changed man, indeed.
He reluctantly agrees to help stop Dr. Nefario, but he won’t let his quest get in the way of his other interests. These include scaring off would-be suitors of his oldest daughter Margo because he wants his girls to remain sweet and innocent as long as possible. He also wants the girls to have a normal family, so he starts dating, going on a string of bad dates with increasingly inappropriate women.
He pursues all of this while being a good parent and trying to save the world. It’s just another day in the crazy life of Gru, who has so much on his plate that he has to rely on his hilarious, pint-sized Minions to help him along as he tries to juggle too many responsibilities.
Carell and newcomer, Wiig, are clearly the voice stars of this very charming film. The characters have easy interactions that make the audience want to root for the pair. The potential coupling of Gru with a romantic interest is a plot point that was left out of the original “Despicable Me” because the main focus was on Gru’s growth as a person and transformation from bad guy to father figure.
Now that he is a bona fide hero and dad, he has a chance for romance, and it is hard to imagine a better partner than Wiig’s irresistible agent. In fact, one could argue that Wiig nearly steals the show from Carell with her performance, though they both shoulder the weight of the film fairly equally. Brand is also fantastic as Dr. Nefario, verbally chewing scenery and taking full advantage of his recognizable voice and mannerisms to make the character much funnier than it would have been with anyone else’s voice.
One of the things that worked so well in the original film was the yellow gibberish-speaking Minions, who brought so many belly laughs to the movie. They are back in full force here, with screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul using them to great effect. They get more screen time than in the first film, but it isn’t just for the sake of having them in the film.
They play an important role in the plot and are once again the source of many huge laughs. Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud utilize them perfectly, occasionally putting them front and center. In fact, some of the publicity posters don’t even show Gru or Lucy, opting instead to focus solely on the delightful Minions instead.
Some animated movies are only aimed at children, but “Despicable Me 2” is not one of those movies, opting to try to entertain adults just as much as their kids. There are a few one-liners that adults will probably laugh but the children might not get, and there is an uproarious, gibberish rendition of “YMCA” by the Minions that will have kids and adults alike laughing so hard they might get the hiccups. The attention to detail during scenes like this is fantastic, and that detail is rewarded by the reactions of the audience. This is definitely a crowd pleaser for all ages that could easily become a full-blown franchise should a third movie be made.
What began as a crossover between “Looney Tunes”, Spy vs. Spy, and “Annie” still keeps the family dynamic and hijinks intact. Gru is no longer the super villain he once was, now content with raising his three adoptive daughters Margo, Edith and Agnes while inventing a new type of jam. The Minions still figure into the organization heavily.
Putting back the moon in the last film has brought him to the attention of the Anti-Villain League, and soon he and an aggressive agent named Lucy are setting up shop in the mall in order to stop a businessman/villain from unleashing a deadly serum.
With his bald-head, hump-back, stiff, and humorless demeanor, Gru is again a perfect straight-man, allowing the zany Lucy, the vacuous single women who wish to date or set him up, adorably literal-minded daughters, and the mall’s many suspicious characters to play off him.
But “Despicable Me 2” also has the same sweetness, allowing the awkward Gru a chance at love and to be a protective father figure. Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud manage to warm the heart while keeping the broad laughs going which they succeed in perfectly like a date that ends in a “Weekend at Bernies” scenario and Gru’s priceless reaction to the kid Margo likes.
Which brings me to the Minions, maybe the best gift animation has given to comedy since “The Simpsons”. These cute little yellow McNuggets with their strange language, facial expressions, love of dressing up in costumes, and constant need for joking around and having fun on the job are a true physical comedy delight. They’re the ace in the hole for this series. Now let’s see what happens next year when they get their movie. “Despicable Me 2” is a laugh riot for everyone, young and old, but more so it knows what its strengths are, as well as where to build on them
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