A funny thing happened in 2010 … a sweet, well-made animated comedy about a villainous do-badder with high hopes came on the scene and surprised the heck out of a lot of people. I remember liking the idea of Despicable Me, a new animated tale focusing on a villain but just thought … yeah OK. Then I saw it … and after wiping away the tears from laughter and falling for the daddy/daughter experience, I was hooked.
Fast forward three years and while I still have a warm place in my heart for Gru and his girls (mainly because the DVD is in regular rotation at my house) … maybe it would have been better just to leave this one alone.
In catching up with Gru, Despicable Me 2 finds him living the straight life, leaving villainy behind and trying make an honest name for himself. However that doesn’t last long when a super secret spy network of good guys (the Anti-Villain League or AVL) needs some extra help and considers Gru their best hope for success.
Ridiculously over-the-top cultural references and stereotypes about Mexicans aside, this film was pretty fun. Good voice acting, fun action and another semi-sweet storyline involving love all helped Gru sort of get his groove back. Helping immensely, the filmmakers (directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud) along with their writing team (Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul) promote the (clear fan favorites) Minions to the forefront and make them integral to the storyline which, in my opinion, helps save this secondary tale from suffering the sophomore slump.
Hearing Miranda Cosgrove (Margo), Elsie Fisher (Agnes) and Dana Grier (Edith) re-voice their parts which pulled on my heartstrings and Kristen Wiig’s animated version of one of her Saturday Night Live sketches was a great addition but hearing the semi-nonsensical blathering of the Minions put a permanent smile on my face that still comes back when I think of some of their hijinks.
I will say, however, that this film got a little boring in the middle. I’m usually complaining about the length of films, but in this case, I think it was less the length of the film and more the content. The movie does not suffer from a lack of stuff to look at – with the Minions doing funny things and so forth – but it’s clear that something is just … missing. In the first film, it was comforting to see how Gru as a character evolved into something new by the addition of the three little girls. He changed. His character’s motivations changed and thus he, as a character, moved the audience with him. This time around, Gru never really goes anywhere. Sure he becomes a spy, has a snazzy new partner and some shiny gadgets, but now he’s a good guy and while this film tries to make his new transition focus on a personal relationship, it just doesn’t resonate as much as in the previous film and thus he as a character is just not as interesting.
Luckily the Minions are there to pick up the pieces.
While not as clever or surprising as the first film, my daughter and I did enjoy the movie. The Minions are funny – laugh out loud funny – and a pet chicken adds some much needed comic relief in a few needed places. With the long, holiday weekend coming and kids out of school, Despicable Me 2 is a solid outing for family-friendly fun. Children are going to fall back in love with the Minions and enjoy their many misadventures. Parents beware, this too will be in regular rotation once out on DVD.
3.5 out of 5 Tortilla Chip Sombreros with a Guacamole Bowl on Top