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Having hung up his villains cloak to focus on fathering his three adopted daughters, Gru (Steve Carell) is now turning his hand to creating jams and jellies with the help of his minions and Doctor Nefario (Russell Brand). But when evil comes calling, new comer Lucy (Kirstin Wiig) recruits Gru to the Anti-Villain League to try and stop a potion that creates evil monsters from getting into the wrong hands.
Whilst that may be the overall plot of the film, it is the underlying story as the majority of the film focuses on the silly, yellow minions – they’re getting their own spin-off and undoubtedly they’re the memorable laughs from the first film. As a result we get a disjointed sequel that has a love story going on for Gru but the daughters are more or less forgotten about. Despite the fact that Agnes, Margo and Edith, former orphans with no-one to love, are now getting the family unit they craved so much, this is pushed to the back and never explored.
The mindless violence and unintelligible meows of the minions is clearly the seller of this movie and the kids will lap up their every action. Unfortunately there is nothing more to this movie. The heartache feeling from Agnes and the girls from the original has gone, replaced by a single poem that proves tricky to recite until the family unit is complete. There is nothing quite so adorably funny as the “IT’S SO FLUFFY” line, instead minions dress up in outfits.
It’s always a challenge to live up to the standards you set and Despicable Me 2 really does fail to light up anything other than a child’s face. If you need to plonk your little one in front of a film for 98 minutes then this will certainly keep their attention, but they’ll probably drive you potty with the imitations afterwards (note that I’m not saying they’ll imitate the violence but you never know). As a fully grown man sitting there watching this film, I saw nothing that had made the first movie so appealing. Granted, I’m not the target audience this is after, but most animated films have at least something the adults can enjoy too.
The voice acting is good, Carell’s oddness give Gru an oddly loveable quality for a former villain and Benjamin Bratt as Eduardo was entertaining, although I’m left wondering what might have been if Al Pacino hadn’t left the project (the company cited “creative differences”). Graphically the film is spot on with what you’d expect from an animation these days. Whilst in the early days of Toy Story and Monsters Inc., graphics were really being pushed to the limits. Now they’ve levelled out to a standard where the biggest gloat is how many curls they can layer into Princess Merida’s ginger hair.
It was always going to be tough to top, I mean, how to you top stealing the moon? But Despicable Me 2 stumbles too much and can’t find its feet. It forces its attention to focusing on the little yellow laugh boxes and not enough on what made the first so enjoyable, despite them providing laughs, they aren’t enough to save this sequel.