Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
The first 'Despicable Me' pretty much owned me.  I tried to resist it, though the concept of an evil dude as the star of a children's movie was intriguing, but by the time little Agnes (Elsie Kate-Fisher) got that fluffy unicorn, I was done.  That movie made a few dollars so a sequel was completely unavoidable, this much we know, and now we have 'Despicable Me 2'.  The thing is Gru (Steve Carell) isn't all that despicable anymore.  Nobody is really.  Which kind of removes the little edge that the original movie had going for it.  The sequel is still entertaining enough, and I'm sure kids will lap it up and have their room littered with stuffed minions, and while Agnes still owns me, the franchise itself doesn't own me anymore.

A few years have passed since we last checked in on Gru and his girls, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and the afore mentioned Agnes, still ages 12, 9 and 6 since CGI children can't age, and life is good.  In fact when we check on The Family Gru, Agnes is having another 6th birthday party. 

But there's trouble looming.  Kind of.  Not really.  After this party Gru is kidnapped by AVL agent… Anti Villain League if you must know… Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) who scurries him away to their secret lair to offer him a job.  Lucy tazed him to do this which seemed like a clear violation of Gru's civil rights, but I guess the AVL falls under the jurisdiction of Homeland Security so anything goes.  Regardless AVL head Mr. Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan) has requested Gru's assistance in finding a lethal secret formula, stolen by some mysterious evil dude, and if you want to find an evil dude, who better than a former evil dude to track down this evil dude?  Gru declines as he is a father and boutique jelly maker and has little time for this kind of nonsense.
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But not so fast!  It seems being a boutique jelly maker lacks the spark that a former super villain needs to get through the day, and coupled by the fact that his mentor Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) has quit the good guy life to pursue other evil endeavors, Gru is back in the game, but this time as a good guy.

As the story goes, Gru along with Lucy and the minions, open up a bakery in the local mall as the trail has led them to believe that the evil dude has setup shop there.  Gru believes this evil dude is kindly Mexican restaurateur Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt) or as Gru knew him, El Macho, the most macho villain who ever lived.  But El Macho allegedly died while air surfing a shark into a live volcano.  Regardless of all of that, there are other issues Gru is dealing with such as Margo discovering boys and most importantly, Gru has discovered that Lucy has taken control of his heart.  Awwww.

Eventually all this craziness will come to a head as our bad guy will be revealed, the minions will be in the thick of his evil plan, and Gru will have to risk life and limb to save his one true love.  Awwww.

So there are a couple of holdovers from the first 'Despicable Me' which we are glad didn't get discarded in this new film, such as Russell Brand's voicing of Dr. Nefario.  In the history of voice overs done by actors in animated movies, Brand's Dr. Nefario is near the top of my list.  Also, we are glad that we still got Agnes and her preoccupation with fluffy unicorns.  Additions that made us appreciate this film, though few in relation to the original, would include The Minions unintelligible vocal rendition of the song 'I Swear'.  The fact that it was unintelligible made this the best version of this song ever performed.  Sorry All 4 One.

It's the omissions, at least for me, that made this sequel not nearly as much fun to sit through.  I mean Gru isn't despicable anymore.  Nobody is really.  El Macho, maybe a little bit, but the slightly subversive tone and clever humorous digs that were in the first movie were completely absent in this one.  Even the girls, who we admit managed to worm their way into my heart in the first movie, didn't have an awful lot to do in this one.  In fact, there is no real focus in this movie.  A little bit of villainy, a little bit of fatherhood, a little bit of minion hijinks, and a little bit of love for Gru near the end of the movie.  Fill in the blanks in-between with a few gags here and there.  Basically, after the first movie there is no real logical place for this sequel to go, and still manage to be a legitimate 'Despicable Me' movie. 

All that being said, at the end of the day this is a movie for children and I do believe it does succeed at that.  At least the kids in the audience I was at seemed to enjoy it an awful lot.  But then the fart gun did get the biggest laughs so… you know… kids.  But they liked it and that's all that matters, to be honest with you.  Yes, I recognize this sequel as a shameless money grab, and the early tally shows it's also hugely successful at that as well, and sure I would've enjoyed a movie on par with the original, but I'm not arguing with seven year olds laughing at a fart gun.
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