The first Despicable Me was a bright, fun film that managed to balance the goofiness of the premise (a supervillian adopting three girls) with a strong enough story to carry the amazing number of jokes. That is mostly the same for this sequel, although the story is nowhere near as strong.
Despicable Me 2 brings back our (anti)hero Gru (Steve Carell), as well as his three charges, Margot (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher), and scientist Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) as they attempt to adjust to post-villian life. Gru is kidnapped by Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) of the Anti-Villian League in a Hannibal-esque plot to find out who stole a mysterious chemical compound. This brings Gru to posing at a mall, where shop owners Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt) and Floyd Eagle-sn (Ken Jeong) are the prime suspects. Of course the minions are back, with their gibberish and nonsense, providing plenty of antics throughout.
This film doesn’t benefit from the originality of the first film’s premise, and there is a lot here that will feel familiar to adult viewers. However, the pace of this film is relentless, and makes up for the sparse plotting with a joke approximately every 3.5 seconds. So if one moment doesn’t quite land, there are at least two more right behind it. More hyperactive than most kids’ fare in recent memory, Despicable Me 2 leans heavily on the Minions, those little yellow dudes with the goggles, to carry an entire subplot. I get tired of them fairly quickly, so if you are a fan of these guys, your take is likely to be much more positive.
Despicable Me 2 is slighter than some other animated films so far this year (see Epic), and in an ironic way this installment feels like an extended commercial for the Minion merchandise kids will be begging for on the way home. As far as suitable summer fare goes, you could do a lot worse. Gru and friends provide a worthy distraction that will fly by.
Despicable Me 2 opens today in Philly area theaters.