Get Ready for More Fun with the Minions in "Despicable Me 2"
Despicable Me (2010), an animated feature film starring the amiable Steve Carell, was a solid if not spectacular hit from the French division of Illumination Entertainment and distributed by Universal. A colorful fantasy, it became somewhat of a cult favorite with its hordes of "minions" and a high-concept storyline. Carell played Felonious Gru, a scheming villain turned by unexpected circumstances into the over-protective father of several girls. One thing missing in that film, though, was an audience-friendly romance. "Despicable Me 2" (2013), directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud and written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, rectifies that omission while continuing the zany confrontations between Gru and his enemies du jour.
|Gru has a reflective moment in "Despicable Me 2"|
The Anti-Villain League (AVL) learns that a secret lab at the Arctic Circle has been stolen by a vehicle using a strong magnet. The lab was developing a formula PX-41 to transform people into invulnerable killers. Searching for answers, the AVL decides to use Gru to investigate and recover the missing PX-41, but, unsure whether he will agree, send agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) to abduct him. She stuns Gru and takes him to AVL's underwater headquarters, where AVL director Silas Ramsbottom (Steven Coogan) asks Gru to find the PX-41. He declines due to his other projects and duties as a father, but Lucy gives him her card in case he changes his mind. When he returns to his lab, Gru finds that his own project, producing bottled jellies, isn't working out and loses his project scientist, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand). Gru then changes his mind and contacts Lucy to take on the assignment.
|Gru and Lucy Wilde|
Evidence suggests that the PX-41 has been taken to the Paradise Shopping Mall. Gru and Lucy go undercover in a cupcake shop there and focus on the owner of a mall restaurant, Eduardo Perez (Benjamin Bratt). Gru thinks Eduardo is actually "El Macho," a super-villain previously thought to be dead. Gru and Lucy break into the restaurant at night to investigate, but narrowly escape detection after being spotted by Eduardo's pet chicken. Nothing in Eduardo's restaurant links him to the PX-41, but they do find a jar of secret-recipe salsa in Eduardo's safe. Next, they investigate wig merchant Floyd Eagle-san (Ken Jeong). Meanwhile, Gru's eldest daughter Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) develops a crush on Eduardo's son, Antonio (Moisés Arias), which clouds Gru's judgment and causes him to make baseless accusations against Eduardo and Antonio.
|A surprised minion|
Gru's friends want to find him a new wife, so neighbor Jillian (Nasim Pedrad) sets him up with her friend Shannon (Kristen Schaal). The date is a disaster, and Lucy rescues Gru by tranquilizing Shannon, causing Gru to realize that Lucy is his true love. The investigation continues, and the AVL arrests Floyd Eagle-san due to an empty PX-41 jar found in his wig shop.
|Gru and his daughter Margo|
Considering the case closed, the AVL reassigns Lucy to Australia, and Gru becomes upset that he won't see her anymore. Before she leaves, though, Gru goes to a party at Eduardo's and learns that Eduardo in fact is El Macho and that Dr. Nefario has changed sides to work for El Macho. El Macho asks Gru to join him in conquering the world, but Gru refuses. After Antonio dumps Margo, Gru freezes him with his death ray.
|Gru and Eduardo|
Lucy flies off to Australia, but on the plane she realizes that she would rather be with Gru and jumps out of the plane to hang-glide back to Eduardo's party. Eduardo's chicken uncovers her identity as an AVL agent and captures her, but Dr. Nefario calls Gru to tell him. Gru disguises two of his minions and has them take him into El Macho's fortress as their supposed prisoner. El Macho has been converting Gru's minions into his own lackeys using the PX-41, but Gru changes them back using an antidote prepared by Dr. Nefario. Gru has a showdown with El Macho, which Gru wins using Lucy's special lipstick taser. Lucy is tied to a shark rocket, and while he tries to release her, El Macho's chicken triggers the rocket, sending them toward an active volcano. During the rocket ride, Lucy agrees to Gru's request for a date, and they narrowly escape death on the rocket. Many dates later, the two are married.
|Gru talks to his daughters|
"Despicable Me 2" is a fun 3D computer-animated family spy comedy that serves as mindless entertainment. Kids especially will enjoy the fart jokes and zany characters, while adults will focus more on the tentative romance between the competent Lucy and the unpredictable Gru. It is a nice sequel in the sense that it is not simply a re-worked retread of the original, as is so often the case, but a welcome extension of the story. There are a lot of laughs, as you would expect in a Steve Carell comedy, and the visuals are inspired. The secret attraction, of course, is the horde of minions that follow Gru but can go off on their own tangents. In that sense, it is a lot like the "Ice Age" films which developed the throw-away character of Scrat into one of the most beloved animated characters of all time. Is this a film for everyone? Pretty much, as long as you aren't looking for anything deep and meaningful. No, it isn't as groundbreaking and fresh and inventive as the original, but that's a very steep task facing any sequel. There's something to be said for the comfortable old chair with which you are familiar.
|Gru and Lucy find love|
The minions are so popular that they are getting their own spinoff entitled, appropriately, "Minions." It is scheduled to come out on December 19, 2014. The success of the "Despicable Me" franchise is shown by the fact that the spinoff will star Sandra Bullock, who hasn't done animated films before. "Minions" will be a sort of prequel to "Despicable Me," and is sure to be another crowd-pleaser.
|The minions celebrate by performing "Y.M.C.A." by the Village People|
"Despicable Me" is the brainchild of one-time Disney animator Sergio Pablo. The El Macho character is a direct homage to the series' roots.
|The leads and minions|
You can't argue with success, and "Despicable Me 2" is turning into as big a hit as the original. It opened at number one at the box office and was one of the big summer hits of 2013. Among its other accomplishments, it had the highest five-day start ever for an animated feature, which means you'll be seeing more of Gru down the line. About the worst that you can say about "Despicable Me 2" is that it is a kid's movie and predicable, but most people will enjoy the minions and the romance and not worry too much about plot quibbles. This goes into the "it is what it is" file, and only you know if you would enjoy an innocuous animated film with no pretensions, a simple story that contains no big moral lessons, and a lot of little crowd-pleasing touches.
Below are trailers for "Despicable Me 2":