So many animated sequels this summer. And good ones, too. They’re going to make me break my sequel rule.
If you haven’t seen 2010’s Despicable Me, buddy, you are missing out. It was one of the funniest, freshest concepts for an animated film in a long time. Not to mention, it was one of the few animated films that seemed like it was written more for adults and just added enough fart jokes to entertain the kids. It’s my favorite non-Disney/non-Dreamworks animated film by far (and there aren’t many of those). And it was a huge success at the box office and with critics. How could the production company not want to make a follow-up film? Ah, hell. Let’s just go talk about the movie!
Despicable Me 2 returns to the story of the odd yet lovable Gru (Steve Carell), who has set aside his work as a villain to become a full-time parent after adopting his three daughters—Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Grier), and Agnes (Elsie Kate Fisher). Gru and his former evil partner, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), have started a new business venture, making jellies and jams to disastrous results, though Nefario eventually takes another job because he misses being evil. After a top-secret lab that has been testing a product to turn fluffy animals into invincible monsters is stolen, Anti-Villain League director Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan) sends agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) to kidnap Gru and bring him to their headquarters, where they request his help to find the person responsible for stealing the lab.
Undercover, Gru and Lucy pretend to work at Paradise Mall, where traces of the product have been found. They run into a former villain Gru recognizes as the deceased El Macho, though now he goes by Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt) and owns a Mexican restaurant in the mall. During all of this, Margo begins dating Eduardo’s son, Antonio; Gru’s daughters try to get him to date because they want a mother; and Gru goes on a terrible date only to realize he loves Lucy. But after Lucy catches the wrong villain, El Macho resurfaces and attempts to use Gru’s minions, now transformed into invincible monsters, to take over the world. You can probably figure out on your own what happens from there…
Now, this plot might not sound as exciting as the previous movie’s “bad guy goes soft for little girls” plot, but I promise you, it works really well. There’s a good balance and blend of Gru’s struggles as a spy, trying to parent three girls (one of whom is a teenager in love), and with his own dating life. It’s a very adult theme for a family movie to be sure, but it’s done so in a way that produces comedic moments perfect for the understanding of both adults and kids.
While the biggest complaint most reviewers have had with this movie is about how Gru isn’t as villainous as he was in the last film, I personally don’t think the movie needed that because the character really grew in these more “day-to-day” struggles, which was honestly rather refreshing. The movie started with Gru doing anything for his girls (like dressing up as a fairy princess for Agnes’ birthday party) and ended with Gru getting married to Lucy to give his girls the mother they’ve always wanted. Clearly, someone sat down and thought about the symmetry of this movie’s purpose.
Of course, the one thing that really made Despicable Me famous in the first place was the minions—and the filmmakers didn’t forget that. The minions’ wacky antics were spread throughout the story, and they were given just enough spotlight that they didn’t take away from the stories of Gru and his daughters or Gru and Lucy. In fact, though most people would say their inclusion is for the benefit of the kids in the audience, I find them absolutely hilarious. The minions in Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 are like a return of the slapstick comedy days, what with them constantly hitting each other, falling over, getting hurt, etc. That slapstick pairs nicely with the sugary bubbliness of Agnes, the peppy enthusiasm of Lucy, and the grumpy rantings of Gru. And one of the funniest scenes was at Gru and Lucy’s wedding where the minions sang All 4 One’s “I Swear” in their minion babble.
As always, the animation was brilliant, using the most of its space and colors. I didn’t see this movie in 3D, but it would’ve been one that I would’ve liked seeing in 3D just because of its animation. And overall, the story, itself, was just extremely well-paced. There was never a moment where I looked down at my watch, wondering how long I’d been watching this movie, which is usually a bad sign (*ahem* World War Z and Man of Steel).
Overall, Despicable Me 2 was a fantastic follow-up to the first movie. It took a surprisingly different approach to the former movie’s plot, focusing more on Gru’s life after adopting his daughters and how that affected him as a person and as a former villain. And, of course, the voice actors nail it again: Steve Carell’s grumpy Transylvanian accent, Benjamin Bratt’s Mexican bravado, and Kristen Wiig’s goofy peppiness. From funny to sweet and dark to light, the movie has a great balance of overall tone. Comedy is central, and with the help of the minions, it’s impossible not to laugh for the entire movie’s length. Kid or adult, Despicable Me 2 is a hilarious must-watch.