Blockbuster Movie Month: "Despicable Me 2" Review

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

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Rating: PG
Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: July 3, 2013
Directed by: Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud
Genre: Animation / Adventure / Comedy

"Despicable Me 2" is the sequel to the 2010 blockbuster "Despicable Me." In this installment, the audience finds Gru, voiced again by Steve Carrell, the villain turned father from the last film, living a boring life of domesticity. When an intelligence outpost is attacked by a giant Acme horseshoe magnet, the government organization that monitors villainy, the Anti-Villain League, sends out Agent Lucy, played by Kristin Wiig, to get Gru's help to figure out who the villain is.

Gru takes on the undercover operation, keeping his job as a peddler of terrible jams and jellies at the mall while he tries to discover who the new villain is. While Gru's been making bad tasting jam, Dr. Nefario, played by Russell Brand, has moved on to a new villain. Eduardo, played by Benjamin Bratt, the character that Gru believes is El Macho, provides a lot of laughs as he upstages Gru at practically every turn. Adding insult to injury, Gru's oldest daughter, Margo, voiced by Miranda Cosgrove, starts to fall for Eduardo's son, Antonio, who is voiced by Moises Arias. Gru's three daughters also hatch a plan to set Gru up with his romantic interest, Agent Lucy.

"Despicable Me" was a fantastically funny and heartwarming film about a villain who gives up his life of crime to be a dad. "Despicable Me 2" faces the difficult task of living up to the success of the first film. Because the first film was designed as a stand-alone film, the storyline didn't leave a lot of room for a sequel. Once "Despicable Me" became so successful, it was obvious that Universal would attempt another film, but it gave fans of the first film reason to pause. The fear was that the magic that made the first film so enjoyable would be missing from the second film because Gru was no longer a villain. Thankfully, "Despicable Me 2" holds its own as funny, family friendly theater fare.

The screenwriters used just enough wicked humor and amusing banter to keep audiences laughing throughout the film. The action is well-paced, preventing it from feeling to audiences that the film lags. Gru's antics as he juggles trying to come to terms with his attraction to Agent Lucy, outwit the advances of his three kids and compete with Eduardo are hysterical. Another high point for the film comes in the form of Gru's minions. Since Gru is no longer a villain, his minions are being slowly taken over by the new villain. The antics of the minions pay off in a lot of laughs and a great musical number.

The animators and directors managed to pull off a film that by all accounts should not have worked. The main character went from a slightly lovable villain to a lovable dad with a slightly villainous side. The minions who were beloved from the first film increased in number and underwent a personality change. However, Coffin and Renaud made it work together beautifully with seamless animation and a great screenplay. The screenwriters, Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul, managed to bring to life the emotional connection between Gru and his kids without making it overbearing for the audience. Overall the film maintains the light family friendly feel that the first film did while building on the plot of the original film and adding a few interesting subplots, which come to a very satisfying conclusion for the audience.

"Despicable Me 2" is a great addition to the "Despicable Me" franchise. While it can't function as a stand-alone film like the first one, it lets the audience have a glimpse into what happened after the conclusion of the original film, and it showcases the issues that Gru has after changing his villainous ways. The actors who lend their vocals to the film perform brilliantly, and the animation utilized by the film is extremely well done. 

There are enough laughs to keep children entertained and enough storylines to fully engage older audiences. The addition of the romantic storyline between Gru and Agent Lucy is inspired, particularly with Gru's children attempting to make Agent Lucy their new mommy. It lends a sense of reality to the otherwise fantastical storyline and lets audiences see a whole new side to Gru that was not present in the first film. The directors, screenwriters and animators clearly put in a lot of effort to balance the comedic, villainous and romantic elements of the film. Thankfully, despite his turn as a good-natured dad, Gru hasn't completely lost his villainous streak, ensuring that audiences haven't lost the villain that they came to love in the first film.