Directed by: Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud.
Written by: Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul.
Starring: Steve Carell (Gru), Kristen Wiig (Lucy), Benjamin Bratt (Eduardo / El Macho), Miranda Cosgrove (Margo), Russell Brand (Dr. Nefario), Ken Jeong (Floyd), Steve Coogan (Silas), Elsie Fisher (Agnes), Dana Gaier (Edith), Moises Arias (Antonio), Nasim Pedrad (Jillian), Kristen Schaal (Shannon), Pierre Coffin (Kevin the Minion / Bob the Minion / Stuart the Minion / Additional Minions / Evil Minions), Chris Renaud (Additional Minions / Evil Minions / Italian Waiter).
Despicable Me 2 is the very definition of disposal family entertainment. I have a hard time believing too many people can actually actively dislike the movie – and none of those who do will be children who will have a blast, and probably watch it repeatedly. It is too sweet, funny, fast moving and well animated for anyone to hate the film. And yet, the film doesn’t stick in your mind in any meaningful way after it’s over. The first film was inventive and funny – it played with genre stereotypes about super villains in the movies, and went knowingly over the top when Gru tried to steal the freaking moon. Perhaps it’s better that they didn’t try to top that in the sequel (really, what the hell else could you steal after the moon) but while I had a good time while watching Despicable Me 2, it has all but faded from my memory just a few days later.
The movie once again has the voice of Steve Carell as Gru – once a super villain, who had his evil heart melted when he adopted three girls as part of his evil plan, and ended up loving them like he never thought he would. Gru is now trying to stay on the straight and narrow and be a good father. But it’s a rather dull life – and his idea for a line of jams and jellies doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Even his sidekick – Dr. Nefario – has grown tired of not being evil, and decided to pursue other opportunities.
And that is when he is contacted by the AVL – Anti Villain League. It seems someone has stolen some super-secret, super dangerous drug that makes even docile animals into killing machines. And traces of the substance have been found at the local mall. The AVL wants Gru to team up with Lucy (Kristen Wiig) to figure out who it is. From the beginning we’re pretty sure it’s Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt) – especially when his son starts flirting with Gru’s oldest – much to his dismay.
The movie moves at a brisk pace – we know what’s going to happen on its two different story tracks – the tracking down of an evil villain, and Gru’s blossoming romance with Lucy – and the movie doesn’t really surprise us. But it’s still hard to complain when the movie is this much fun – as a film buff, I did enjoy playing spot the reference throughout the film, some are obvious, some quite subtle. And as with the last film, the film is very well animated. Yes, the film probably does rely too heavily on the Minions this time around – kind of like the Madagascar movies rely too heavily on the Penguins in the sequels, or the Ice Age with Scrat, etc. – but they’re still adorable and funny, so yet again, it’s hard to complain too much.
Overall, it’s easy to see why Despicable Me 2 has become one of the biggest hits of the year so far. It gives fans of the first movie precisely what it wants – is hugely enjoyable for kids, and not a pain to sit through for adults. If that sounds like I’m damning the movie with faint praise, so be it.