Written by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul
Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud
Starring Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand and more.
Redeemed supervillains can be wonderfully charming company.
The beak-nosed Gru, his adopted daughters, and his hoard of domesticated minionsare back in “Despicable Me 2.” The loose, adorable romp of a movie is like an impromptu family reunion with beloved cousins you haven’t seen in forever – everything’s terribly disorganized, but you’re having so much fun you really don’t care. You’re just happy to see them and know that everyone’s doing well.
When our movie opens, Gru has retired from a life of super-villainry to take care of his girls and make horrible-tasting jam. Watching Gru reluctantly interact with neighborhood parents and try to pull of a girls’ birthday party is adorable if you’ve seen the first movie.
Domestic elements like this are the best part of “Despicable Me 2.” It’s fun watching our favorite supervillain adapt to fatherhood, especially when he indulges in some wish fulfillment for the audience. Plenty of fathers have to deal with their daughter’s first crush, but most of them don’t have a freeze ray on hand.
There’s an overarching plot involving the Anti-Villain League and a supervillain hiding out at the local mall, but that’s really just an excuse to send Gru back out into the field and force him to work with his potential romantic interest. His growing relationship with Lucy, an agent with the league, is sweet and subtle enough that it shouldn’t gross out any little boys who happen to be watching.
It also gives the writers the chance to play with the classic supervillain toy box, and they bring out all the rockets, secret formulas, hulking creatures and improbable guns that any comic book-loving heart could desire. Best of all is the attack chicken, who I now want to star in its own spin-off cartoon series.
Unfortunately, the jumble highlights the one real flaw of “Despicable Me 2:” The story is more a series of set pieces than an actual plot, all of which branch off directly from the first movie. This isn’t a problem if you’ve seen “Despicable Me,” but those who haven’t will probably get lost in the sequel.
Or worse, they won’t see much of a point to it. Family reunions are fun when you know and care about the people involved, since it gives you the chance to spend time with them. Doing the same thing with complete strangers, however, or even casual acquaintances, would be loud, confusing boredom.
For those who did enjoy the first movie, however, the second is a treat. Fans of the minions will enjoy their added screen time and host of ridiculous costumes, and Agnes remains as spunky, adorable and slightly strange as ever. There’s also plenty of jokes about supervillainry as a serious career option, and the writers have given some real thought to the challenges of letting go of that particular spotlight.
Luckily, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your freeze ray.