MRR Review: "Despicable Me 2"

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

MRR Review: "Despicable Me 2"

--Rating: PG (Rude humor, mild action)
Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: July 3, 2013
Directed by: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Genre: Animation/Comedy/Crime

When Gru, the character at the heart of the first "Despicable Me," last graced movie theater screens, he had gotten over his evil-villain tendencies and had grown to love the young girls he had kidnapped for nefarious purposes. His soft underbelly had been exposed, and he seemed to be all the better for it. Fast forward to "Despicable Me 2," and Gru has completely abandoned his former life in order to embrace fatherhood. He is living happily with Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher).

The plot of the film begins in earnest when Gru is approached by Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) of the Anti-Villain League to do some work. She and her boss, Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan), figure that, since Gru used to be a villain, he could use his evil knowledge to help them find a mysterious supervillain named Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) who is about to put his master plan into action. This plan includes mass destruction and world domination, things Gru would have salivated to achieve before he was transformed into a good guy. Now, he wants to help Lucy and Silas find Dr. Nefario, but he fears it would cut into his quality time with his daughters. Gru is a changed man, indeed.

He reluctantly agrees to help stop Dr. Nefario, but he won't let his quest get in the way of his other interests. These include scaring off would-be suitors of his oldest daughter Margo because he wants his girls to remain sweet and innocent as long as possible. He also wants the girls to have a normal family, so he starts dating, going on a string of bad dates with increasingly inappropriate women. He pursues all of this while being a good parent and trying to save the world. It's just another day in the crazy life of Gru, who has so much on his plate that he has to rely on his hilarious, pint-sized Minions to help him along as he tries to juggle too many responsibilities.

Carell and newcomer, Wiig, are clearly the voice stars of this very charming film. The characters have easy interactions that make the audience want to root for the pair. The potential coupling of Gru with a romantic interest is a plot point that was left out of the original "Despicable Me" because the main focus was on Gru's growth as a person and transformation from bad guy to father figure. Now that he is a bona fide hero and dad, he has a chance for romance, and it is hard to imagine a better partner than Wiig's irresistible agent. In fact, one could argue that Wiig nearly steals the show from Carell with her performance, though they both shoulder the weight of the film fairly equally. Brand is also fantastic as Dr. Nefario, verbally chewing scenery and taking full advantage of his recognizable voice and mannerisms to make the character much funnier than it would have been with anyone else's voice.

One of the things that worked so well in the original film was the yellow gibberish-speaking Minions, who brought so many belly laughs to the movie. They are back in full force here, with screenwriters Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul using them to great effect. They get more screen time than in the first film, but it isn't just for the sake of having them in the film. They play an important role in the plot and are once again the source of many huge laughs. Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud utilize them perfectly, occasionally putting them front and center. In fact, some of the publicity posters don't even show Gru or Lucy, opting instead to focus solely on the delightful Minions instead.

Some animated movies are only aimed at children, but "Despicable Me 2" is not one of those movies, opting to try to entertain adults just as much as their kids. There are a few one-liners that adults will probably laugh but the children might not get, and there is an uproarious, gibberish rendition of "YMCA" by the Minions that will have kids and adults alike laughing so hard they might get the hiccups. The attention to detail during scenes like this is fantastic, and that detail is rewarded by the reactions of the audience. This is definitely a crowd pleaser for all ages that could easily become a full-blown franchise should a third movie be made.

Rating: 4 out of 5