Former super villain Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to investigate the theft of a powerful serum that could wreak havoc on the world. It's up to Gru and his new partner Lucy, and his team of minions to stop the mysterious new enemy.
When Universal/Illumination Entertainment debuted Despicable Me in 2010, it's unlikely they knew just how big a hit they had on their hands. The film did quite well in the theaters, warranting a sequel to be greenlighted fairly quickly, and now, three years later, audiences are treated to the next chapter in the tale of the reformed "super villain," Gru. But one of the best things about Despicable Me, was in fact, Gru's little quirky, gibberish spouting yellow minions who stole each and every scene they were in. Despicable Me 2 brings (almost) everybody back from the first film for a second outing, including our favorite goggle-wearing little guys. But, instead of making the big mistake most sequels make of shifting the film's focus to a different character or featuring way too much of a good thing (like having too much of the minions), Despicable Me 2 plays most of its cards just right.
In fact, Despicable Me 2 shies away from copying the first film by giving it a continuation, next chapter feel. Films like Back To The Future 2 and 3 and Ghostbusters 2 are good examples of sequels that kept repeating the same formula. They worked, for the most part, in their own kind of way, but it also cheapened the experience of the original films -- in both cases -- by giving the world that was originally established a more surreal feel instead of the more realistic vibe they first gave off. Despicable Me 2 doesn't backpedal either, like National Treasure 2, for example, which undid the relationship that blossomed by the end of the film between the central characters so it could be forcefully rekindled in the sequel. Here, Gru still has his three adopted daughters and their relationship is great; Gru is trying to settle into life as a former villain. And while we met Vector as the villain in the 2010 film pretty early on, the villain in Despicable Me 2 is mostly a mystery, with their identity being believed to be one way by Gru, but not by anyone else. Meanwhile, the plot largely has to do with Gru being forced by the people around him to find a wife and mother for his daughters. Whether a neighbor is trying to set him up with a complete mismatch or his daughters are hinting at someone else, Gru finds himself becoming an eligible bachelor whether he likes it or not. And, to make matters worse, Gru is introduced to a completely new challenge: his oldest daughter, Margo, is starting to get infatuated with a young boy her age--much to Gru's horror. It merely complicates Gru's world further.
What's interesting about Despicable Me 2 is that the pacing isn't nearly as smooth as the first film. At times, the movie feels just a tad sluggish, but it's mostly due to the fact that the story pauses for chunks of dialog at a time. Granted, we took our just-under-three-year-old with us and I felt extra sensitive toward moments that might seem slower to him, but he seemed to not lose interest for too long. The odd part about the pacing feeling a little slow at times, is that there were still some serious laugh-out-loud moments scattered throughout the entire film. We love the minions, but my wife and I were practically in tears over some of the gags in the film; it was just too funny. There's a lot going on in Despicable Me 2, and I think it's likely to be a film that reveals new things with each succeeding view.
This paragraph will deal with a little more detail on the plot, so if you'd like to be more in the dark about what the film is about, please feel free to skip this paragraph. Comedienne Kristen Wiig, who voiced Miss Hattie in the first movie, returns to play an agent of the AVL, Lucy. Lucy's kind of a goofball and an interesting partner for Gru when they start working together. However, it isn't long before Gru's girls see Lucy as a potential match for Gru, and it's a little difficult to see the chemistry between the two at first. Still, the dynamic between Gru and Lucy changes things up a bit for Despicable Me 2, which helps add another unique angle to this particular continuation of the story. All of it is actually kind of predictable, and you may see where some of the little twists in the plot are going as they lay the groundwork for them, but it never takes the fun out of the film in the process. And when you realize that the story really intends to pair Gru up with a lady friend, it only feels like the natural progression for the story. By the end of Despicable Me 2, it feels like we've watched a rather natural continuation of the story that had been set in motion with the 2010 movie and nothing this time around ruins what the first movie set up.
The content for Despicable Me 2 is more of the same of what you saw in the first film (some minor spoilers ahead). There's lots of slapstick comedy, especially between the minions, and Gru gets a few moments of mischievous behavior like in the first movie. There are some intimidating, quasi-scary moments near the finale that didn't seem to bother our little guy, which involve mutant versions of the minions that are little unstoppable forces that chase and threaten the main characters. Basically, they're purple, crazy, sharp-toothed versions of the minions that are kind of zombies. Then, the villain injects himself with the same serum that had turned the minions to zombies and becomes a big, furry giant that poses a threat to our heroes. Most of these tense moments are given a comedic spin, so it helps keep things light, but some kids, especially the younger ones, may find it a bit scary. Nobody "dies" in the movie, but the villain does talk about killing Gru and Lucy. Other than that, the content isn't particularly vulgar or offensive.
As a sequel, Despicable Me 2 delivers. It's a great animated summer movie and fun for the whole family. If you loved the first one, you should certainly enjoy this latest installment in the Despicable Me franchise, although it definitely isn't quite as good as the first one. A supposed third film is slated for the end of 2014 that will revolve around the minions, so if the filmmakers continue their winning streak, and a movie about the minions wouldn't prove to be too much of a good thing, then I can imagine this being a wonderful continuation of a beloved franchise.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 7/11/13)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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