Despicable Me was a surprise: an anti-hero set-up with a single parent payoff and bonus minion pratfalls. It struck the right balance of comedy and heart and sequel Despicable Me 2 is pitched at the same sweet spot. So where do you go after you’ve stolen the moon and adopted three orphans?
Fatherhood has mellowed Gru (Steve Carell) since we last saw him. He’s out of the super-villain racket, focusing his energies on doing his best for daughters Margo, Edith and Agnes and avoiding his busybody neighbour’s single friends.
It isn’t long before he’s back in the game, recruited into the Anti-Villain League by new characters Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) and Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan) to go undercover at a mall of all places and track down the villain responsible for the theft of an experimental serum. Lucy and Gru end up working together as partners and before you can say ‘love interest’ the kids are asking if Ms Wilde is single meanwhile Gru’s scene-stealing minions are being spirited away by persons unknown.
With so much comedic talent kicking around the cast it’s safe to say that Despicable Me 2 is a damn funny film, even if the central cast are slightly overshadowed by their jibberish-talking, yellow co-stars.
The minions do a bang up job scratching our Looney Tunes itch with their silly voices, slapstick and costume changes but if you’re not a fan by now, there’s probably nothing this film can do to change your mind.
The climax is a bit by the numbers – the sinister plot of the third act falls a little flat, feeling resolved before you’ve really had a chance to take it all in. That said, there is a great deal of fun slapstick and family comedy to be found as Gru levels up as a protective dad, eye-twitching as eldest Margo shows interest in a boy for the first time and dressing up as a Fairy Princess for Agnes’ birthday party.
There’s just something a little different about Despicable Me. There’s a positive underlying message about non-traditional family units that doesn’t feel too sign-posted or needlessly saccharine. Carell and Wiig are both likeable and fun in their roles, the kids turn in great performances and of course those pesky minions are a riot.
The first film was enjoyably subversive but comedy should always evolve and Despicable Me 2 takes the groundwork of the original and treads a familiar path with entertaining results.