Felonious Gru (Steve Carell) has given up on his career as a super villain, and now enjoys a quiet life as father who makes less-than-delicious fruit jellies in his basement. But when a new bad guy threatens the world with a powerful mutagen in Despicable Me 2, Gru joins the Anti-Villain League, lead by the all-too-British Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan), in hopes of thwarting any nefarious plans. And since he wasn’t so keen on living a life as a jam chef, a return to the crime business is exactly what Gru has been longing for – even if he’s now on the other side.
The Despicable Me sequel isn’t as fresh and fun as the first, but it is a crowd-pleasing animated spectacle sure to make kids of all ages smile. The same wit and clever writing that made the first film stand out is still here, but it’s hampered now by an excess of minions — lots of minions. Too many minions. The cute little guys overtake the film, forcing the smarter moments to sit in the backseat, which is a real shame. Because I’ve got to tell you, they’re kind of a one joke act — all they do is screw things up and hurt themselves over and over again.
Chances are good that your kids will like this as much as they did the last movie. But as an adult who loves animated films, I was slightly disappointed. There are some welcome additions to the cast; Gru’s new partner and love interest, Lucy (Kristen Wiig), creates some hilariously awkward moments for Gru, who seems to be incapable of speaking to women. I also really found myself enjoying the hell out of the new villain, El Macho (Benjamin Bratt), a suave Mexican stereotype, who’s deviously charming son has taken a liking to Gru’s daughter Margo (Miranda Cosgrove).
Honestly, there’s a lot to love about this movie. One scene, featuring a heartbroken Gru roaming through the city and destroying the fun of some kids playing Frisbee in a park, had me laughing helplessly. But the comedy brilliance of the almost-evil Gru is short-lived, because any second there’s going to be minions on the screen, abusing 3D technology by interacting directly with the audience. Those damn little yellow guys get old pretty fast.
Unnecessary 3D stuff aside (which all looks ridiculous in standard 2D), the animation here is spectacular. Gone are the days where Pixar has the monopoly on quality CGI. The textured detail in the backgrounds, the charming look to the characters, and the lighting effects in Despicable Me 2 all signal an end to Pixar’s reign of dominance. This movie looks absolutely awesome.
Despicable Me 2 is worth watching if you’re an animation buff, or you’re just looking for a movie to watch with the family. But if you’re hoping for something as unique as the first film, you’re going to be bummed out. The filmmakers have opted for the safe comedy of minions more than anything else, and our beloved Gru and his adorable kids are pushed aside. You’ll get some glimpses of the genius that made the first film so memorable, but don’t expect this sequel to reach the bar set by its predecessor.