Three years ago, the original “Despicable Me” took everyone by surprise by offering a film with comically inept, soft-hearted villain who was slowly won over by three children. Now Gru, his family and his minions are back, only this time, he’s working for the good guys and finds himself facing romantic entanglements as well.
It’s an entertaining summer film, but in spite of its best efforts, it can’t live up to the magic of the original.
After adopting three girls, Gru (Steve Carell) finds himself getting out of the villain business for good. He’s unable to stay uninvolved, however, after an operative of the Anti-Villain League (AVL) kidnaps him and convinces him to do consultation work on a case for them. Recently an entire sub-arctic research station was stolen, and the AVL is worried about the research they were doing. The station was working on a secret formula that mutates animals into larger, more aggressive versions of themselves. Obviously, if this formula were to fall into the wrong hands, it could be used for evil.
Gru reluctantly accepts the assignment, and soon finds himself working undercover with Lucy (Kristen Wiig), the AVL agent who kidnapped him. The two of them set up shop in a local shopping mall, where trace elements of the formula were detected. Posing as bakers operating a cupcake shop, Gru and Lucy stake out all the other shop owners for suspicious activity. Gru believes that the owner of a Mexican restaurant (Benjamin Bratt) reminds him of an old super-villain named El Macho, but the AVL is focused on Floyd Eagle-san (Ken Jeong), the owner of a wig shop.
As Gru and Lucy conduct their investigation, the villain responsible for the theft of the formula kidnaps Gru’s minions, considering them the perfect subjects for experimentation. Things get even worse for Gru, too. All the while he’s on secret assignment, his daughters are trying to set him up on dates, a process that turns out to be dangerous for him as well!
Will Gru be able to find the secret formula in time to save his minions, and the world? Will he be able to save his sanity as his daughters try to set him up romantically?
“Despicable Me 2” will be sure to entertain the children who are taken to see it and the adults who accompany them, but it has a hard time living up to the legacy of its predecessor. The original film introduced us to the hysterical character of Gru. He was ambitious, yet inept. As he ran across the three adorable young girls he would later adopt, his evil heart slowly melted. Unfortunately for the second chapter of the saga, there’s nothing to rival that here. It’s not as fun watching Gru be good, and as hard as they try with the romantic subplot, it’s not as endearing as watching his change of heart over the children. What we’re left with is a rather soft action comedy, with scattered moments of genuine laughs and an erstwhile attempt at being heartfelt that doesn’t fully engage the audience.
If you’re a fan of the minions, it certainly seems as though they upped the minion quotient for this film. The waddle and babble and destroy things unintentionally. You’ll get to see them fight each other and wear silly costumes and most of all, sing. They amused me well enough, but I’m not such a fan that I can get carried away about what they brought to the table here.
It’s an amusing film, but doesn’t quite tug the heart-strings like the first one did, and certainly has a less worthy plot. It will still provide an afternoon of family fun for parents looking to entertain their kids, but I think that’s about all it delivers.