Despicable Me 2 (2013) / Animation-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG for ruse humor and mild action
Running time: 98 min.
Cast (voices): Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Ken Jeong, Steve Coogan, Elsie Fisher, Dana Gaier, Moises Arias, Nasim Pedrad, Kirsten Schaal, Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Small parts (voices): Vanessa Bayer, Laraine Newman,
Director: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Screenplay: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul
Review published July 15, 2013
Lesser than Despicable Me but still quite an entertaining follow-up, even though the main catch of a lifelong bad guy having a change of heart after having to care for the needs of young orphans isn't something that can be easily recreated; it's probably a good thing that they didn't even try.
Despicable Me 2 finds Gru (voiced by Carell, Crazy Stupid Love) still an adoptive father to three adorably sweet girls, leaving the world of being a super villain behind him, having a go in the jam-and-jelly-making business, to the chagrin of Gru's assistant, Dr. Nefario (Brand, Rock of Ages), who leaves to continue his henchman-ship somewhere else. However, Gru's reputation precedes him, as he's recruited by the AVL (Anti-Villain League) who needs his help to track down another mysterious super-villain who has stolen a serum called PX-41, which has the ability to change any creature injected with it into invincible, carnivorous beasts. With a hot tip that the no-goodnik is hiding in plain sight at a nearby shopping mall, Gru teams up with top AVL agent, Lucy Wilde (Wiig, Bridesmaids), to identify him or her before things get out of hand.
At the same time, Gru is distracted from his mission when his eldest adopted daughter Margo (Cosgrove, Yours Mine & Ours) is on the cusp of perhaps getting a boyfriend, and the one she has her eyes set on, Antonio (Arias, Nacho Libre), just happens to not quite cut the mustard in Gru's eyes, as he is the son of a Mexican restaurant owner in the mall that Gru thinks may be the criminal they're looking for.
Returning for this sequel is Kristen Wiig as Lucy (a different character than Wiig voiced in the first film), sounding more or less like a boisterous version of the actress's natural persona, and coming on board is Benjamin Bratt (Snitch, The Great Raid), completely not like himself with an over-the-top Mexican accent for Eduardo, Antonio's father. Bratt's voice role was originally recorded by Al Pacino, who probably would have made the character sound a lot like a cartoonish version of the already cartoonish Tony Montana from Scarface, but creative differences caused Pacino to drop out. Bratt does a respectable job on short notice with the admittedly stereotypical caricature. The momentum of the laughs takes a dip in the final half hour, when the main plot kicks into full gear, but by that time, the entertainment quotient has already been met, allowing Despicable Me 2 to coast to a respectable finish.
This sequel is more of a straight-forward romp without a main hook, other than its Fast & Furious 6-like main plot of a government agency strong-arming a criminal to work with them to catch another criminal. However, most of the film runs along without much catering to its main plot, concentrating more on its characters, tossing up some pretty clever gags and side stories involving such things as the making of jams, the girls' trying to help Gru to get them a new stepmom, Margo's romantic stirrings, and a good deal of Minion slapstick shenanigans, which will no doubt make this a hit for the kiddies. Although smaller in scale and ambition, and lesser in terms of emotional content, this sequel is lighthearted, comical, occasionally charming, and while, on the whole, it's really all a superfluous money grab, it is well made and amiable enough to garner a recommendation for anyone who enjoyed the first film and is anxious for more.
©2013 Vince Leo