More inspired lunacy
From this point on we might has well count on every animated movie that does over $100 million in box office to spawn a sequel. But the majority of sequels fail to live up to the original films from a creative standpoint, even if they often do better commercially. Even within the Pixar franchise you have a spectrum of the sublime (two “Toy Story” sequels) to the forgettable (“Cars 2”).
So where does “Despicable Me 2,” the sequel to the surprise megahit from 2010 land?
Fortunately, it ranks up there with the best animated sequels of all time. And while it can’t surpass the charm and originality of the original’s supervillain-goes-father figure storyline, “DM2” clearly understands what makes an audience laugh and works overtime to do just that.
This installment owes even more to the Looney Tunes comedy occasionally broached in the first film. If you liked Gru (fantastically voiced again by Steve Carrell, his dexterity here is nothing short of genius) and especially his band of squeakily-gibbering overall-and-goggle-clad minions, you will be in heaven. Amazingly, though the minions make up a large portion of the film’s biggest laughs—the pratfalls, pranks, and inspired musical numbers come in waves—they don’t upstage “DM2’s” more difficult prize: a layered storyline and new characters that are memorably fun, even if they’re a little politically incorrect. Bravo!
Ex-bad guy Gru is still tending his button-cute trio of orphaned girls, while his factory now produces jams and jellies instead of nefarious weapons – something that discourages Gru’s mad scientist helper Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand). But fear not, when an entire Russian research station is literally ripped from its artic location and a monster-making secret formula gets in the wrong hands, Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to find the evil-doers.
In one of the film’s many spot-on casting decisions, Gru’s partner is agent Lucy, perfectly performed by Kristen Wiig, who is given a gangly red-headed caricature that matches seamlessly with the comedian’s goofy demeanor.
A colorful mall becomes the target of the investigation with an outlandish, rooster-loving Mexican restaurant owner (Benjamin Bratt), and a wacky wig shop owner (Ken Jeong) as prime suspects.
The little girls have a lesser role here but still inspire Gru to find them a mother, even as he strives to keep his oldest daughter away from a new admirer. These are old-fashioned stereotypes for sure, but many fathers will relate.
Just when the spy-themed storyline begins to ebb, you can count on those minions to keep the laughs coming. The 3D treatment is especially good; don’t miss the fun tricks while the final credits roll. The Universal team (Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud, Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul) have another winner here, perhaps even besting Pixar’s “Monsters University,” while giving families some much needed respite from the smoldering summer doldrums.
Rated PG for crude humor and mild action.